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Beats & Pieces Big Band - 'All In'

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief / @i_ADH

Beats & Pieces Big Band is immediately gripping. Band director Ben Cottrell has written songs with soul and bounce to them that this group performs with an infectious energy, which is frankly a bit surprising for a bunch of pale dudes from Manchester, UK. However, one can get drawn in quickly to Finlay Panter's drumming, or the siren of Anton Hunter's guitar, or in the perfect touch of Patrick Hurley's work on keys. There's so much that works so well in Beats & Pieces Big Band's latest album, All In.

The horns here are a real delight. One doesn't hear interplay in compositions this stormy in a big band all too often, at least not since the last Darcy James Argue album. These are roomy arrangements with solos that go places. There are no exercises in the typical jazz conventions. Everyone here has something to say and they all sound great together. Ten and a half minute album centerpiece "Havmann" goes on a ride that's just long enough and knows where it's going. The one cover on the album, a cool take on David Bowie's "Let's Dance", is so chill a take that it never wanders into a hokey take and turns the song into a new creation that fits perfectly here.

In essence, this isn't the typical big band album and it's all the better for it.

All In, the latest album from Ben Cottrell's Beats & Pieces Big Band, is out now on their own Efpi Records. You can buy it now at their Bandcamp page.

Ben Cottrell : director
Anthony Brown, Sam Healey, Ben Watte : saxophones
Owen Bryce, Graham South, Nick Walters : trumpet
Ed Horsey, Simon Lodge, Rich McVeigh : trombone
Anton Hunter : guitar
Patrick Hurley : piano/Rhodes
Harrison Wood : bass
Finlay Panter : drums

recorded by Alex Bonney and José Tomaz Gomes at Real World Studios, Wiltshire 13th-16th January 2014
mixed by Alex Bonney
mastered by Peter Beckmann at Technologyworks Mastering
produced by Ben Cottrell
all tracks composed & arranged by Ben Cottrell except track 6 (composed by David Bowie, arranged by Ben Cottrell)
all tracks published by Big Life Music Ltd/In All Seriousness Music Ltd except track 6 (published by Jones Music America)
artwork by Alexander Rennie

Nextbop editor Anthony Dean-Harris hosts the modern jazz radio show, The Line-Up, Fridays at 9pm CST on 91.7 FM KRTU San Antonio and is also a contributing writer to DownBeat Magazine and the San Antonio Current. You should follow him on Twitter.