The Big Shake-Up
Don’t Block The Box
Big Shake Up
God Bless The Child
On The Move
Bhangra And Mash.
Jean-Paul Gervasoni, Paul Munday, Gavin Broom (trumpet, flugelhorn); Jon
Stokes (trombone); Sam Bullar (soprano, alto, tenor saxophones); Gemma
Moore (baritone saxophone, flute); Mike Poyser (sousaphone); Jimmy Norden
(drums, percussion); Sharleen Linton (vocals on "God Bless The Child")
Recorded at Assault and Battery, and Stowe School, undated
The Big Shake-Up, formerly known as Bad Ass Brass – which sounds better,
probably, in an American accent – is a London octet featuring some
well-established names. The lineup of two trumpets, trombone, two saxes,
sousaphone – a bit of a wild card, this, but with Jazz pedigree going way
back to the 1920s – and drums generates plenty of heft and more than earns
the soubriquet of Big Shake-Up. If an ensemble like this brings to mind the
shade of Loose Tubes, I’d probably redirect that kind of thought to
funk-meets-Tuba Fats plus quite a bit more. Though this disc only lasts 33
minutes, itself LP sized in length, its five tracks lay out the group’s
ensemble wares with unfailing enthusiasm.
Three of the compositions are by Russell Bennett. Don’t Block The Box has a stalking, rather New Orleans vibe –
rich, deep, and graced with vibrant solos - whilst On the Move is
slower, with fine dynamic gradients (this band has a good ear for volume
and when to reduce it) alongside a Streetlife, filmic quality. A track like
this shows plenty of contrast, catchy themes and a skippy series of solos,
notably from the flugelhorn and trumpet that generate a more effusive
ensemble sound and an exultant peroration. Bennett’s final composition is
the groan-inducing piece called Bhangra and Mash – a title that
probably won’t fly well overseas. Nevertheless, it’s Asian-fusion ethos is
well established via the saxophone, its cross-cultural ethos eminently avid
and extremely approachable. There’s nothing didactic here, where everything
is put to the service of a good, exciting and enjoyable time.
Dave O’Higgins’s Big Shake Up is taken up-tempo alongside some
sonically interesting episodes – frantic but controlled – with a funky
tenor solo from Sam Bullar over strong percussion work from Jimmy Norden.
There’s a solitary vocal from Sharleen Linton though it could hardly be one
more iconic – God Bless the Child in this arrangement by Callum
Au. Highly effective all round, Linton makes no attempt to emulate Billie
Holiday being abetted by a soulful saxophone solo and sinewy brass backing
all the way through.
Both exciting and enjoyable this eight-piece generates a big, sonorous
corporate tone. Their rocking, funky vibe can even imply an Old School
two-beat. Their live gigs must be a smash.