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The Andrew Linham Jazz Orchestra - Weapons Of Mass Distraction Rating: 4 out of 5 It’s one of those albums that reveals more and more on each subsequent listening as one immerses oneself in the details of the arrangements.

. The Andrew Linham Jazz Orchestra

“Weapons Of Mass Distraction”

(Self Released)

Andrew Linham is a London born saxophonist, clarinettist, composer and educator based in London. Before returning to the capital he studied at Leeds College of Music where he was the recipient of several awards.

Linham’s main creative outlets with regards to jazz are his quartet and jazz orchestra. In 2012 the quartet, featuring Linham on alto sax, Rob Brockway on piano, Darren McCarthy on double bass and Dan Paton at the drums released the album “Abandoned Silence” which garnered a compelling degree of critical acclaim. The quartet was also featured on the “Yamaha New Jazz Sessions” cover-mount CD which appeared with the January 2011 edition of Jazzwise magazine. The quartet is still an ongoing concern although live performances may present variations on the album line up.

Linham is also involved with theatre work and has written his own full length musical, an adaptation of Kenneth Graham’s “Wind In The Willows” that played a successful residency at the Queens Theatre in Hornchurch in July 2017.

My only previous sighting of Linham was as a member of the Croatian born composer Mak Murtic’s Sun Ra inspired Mimika Orchestra at a 2015 EFG London Jazz Festival performance at the Spice of Life in Soho.  Linham was specialising on clarinet and the line up at this lunchtime show included a number of other musicians who appear on the “Weapons Of Mass Distraction” CD.

Turning now to Linham’s Jazz Orchestra which is chock full of leading young musicians from the still burgeoning London jazz scene. The Orchestra has premièred two sets of new music beginning with 2013’s “The Linferno Suite”, Linham’s first major work. The second, “The Theme of Anarchic Animals” was performed at the 2015 EFG London Jazz Festival.

The amusingly titled “Weapons Of Mass Destruction” was released in October 2017. Linham’s hand written note which accompanied my review copy of the album promised;
“A wild new big band album, a collection of eleven original tunes played by some fantastic London based musicians. There’s tunes about sharks, dinosaurs and a miserable lady called Big Bertha – what more could you want from a contemporary big band album?

What indeed – how could I resist?

The musicians that appear on “Weapons” are some of the best young players on the UK scene, many of them rising stars and band leaders in their own right. The line up comprises of;

Tommy Andrews, Phil Meadows, Riley Stone-Lonergan, Jonathan Chung, Andrew Linham – reeds

Barney Lowe, Miguel Gorodi, Sam Warner, Matt Roberts, Andy Hall – trumpets, flugels

Rosie Turton, Tom Green, Chris Saunders, Barney Medland – trombones

Tom Millar – piano

Rich Perks – guitar

Andrew Robb – bass

Dave Ingamells – drums

As will be seen Linham’s tune titles reflect the humour apparent in that hand written note. This must be a fun band to play in.

The ALJO sound embraces contemporary large ensemble jazz, elements of rock and funk and pastiches of earlier big band styles.

The album commences with the appropriately animated “Screaming Abdabs” which introduces an authentic, exuberant big band sound driven by Ingamells’ smart drumming. The honour of the first solo goes to Jonathan Chung on tenor sax, leader of his own trio, Glasshopper. Another band-leader follows, this time Phil Meadows on incisive, sinuous soprano. Next it’s the turn of trumpeter Sam Warner, a musician I have to admit to being less familiar with, but nevertheless his contribution is both invigorating and convincing. Ingamells then gets to enjoy something of a cameo in the latter stages of this rousing opener.

“Sharking In The Chalet” adopts a slightly more measured and lyrical approach with Tommy Andrews’ airy soprano sax featuring prominently in the arrangement. There’s a flowingly lyrical solo from pianist Tom Millar and some richly textured writing for the ensemble as a whole with some colourful and mellifluous horn voicings.

“I Arsque You This” is typical of the humorous or punning titles that Linham likes to deploy for his compositions. It’s introduced by a peal of laughter and continues in a suitably rowdy and irreverent manner with plenty of low end heft coming from the trombones with Rosie Turton, of Nerija fame, featuring as a soloist. Others to feature prominently in the arrangement include pianist Millar and trumpeter Miguel Gorodi.

“Dinosaur Face” initially harks back to the styles of earlier jazz epochs in a retro style arrangement featuring Millar on piano, Warner on trumpet and later Andrew Robb on double bass. This is rudely interrupted by a savage outburst of rock influenced guitar from Rich Perks which leads to a more anarchic final section that juxtaposes the two styles with the trombone of Chris Saunders and alto sax of Phil Meadows playing prominent roles. This is a real roller coaster of a piece, and one that neatly sums up the spirit of Linham and his band.

There are more retro trappings on the following “Pyrrhic Victory” with its rapidly walking bass line and with Andrews featuring on clarinet. The Orchestra’s joyous, playful updating of early 20th century jazz styles incorporates thrilling solos from Chung on tenor,  Andrews on clarinet and Tom Green on trombone.

“Big Bertha’s Quarter To Twos” keeps the music in the same generic zone with its exaggerated blues arrangement featuring the wailing saxes of Riley Stone-Lonergan on tenor and Linham himself on baritone. Andrews on clarinet and Saunders on trombone are also prominent in an arrangement that reaches right back to New Orleans.

There’s a change of style on “Apples Aren’t The Only Fruit” which is introduced by the choppy funk of Perks’ guitar and dives headlong into 70s jazz funk territory with a lively, hard driving arrangement that includes a raunchy baritone solo from Linham while Perks relishes the chance to cut loose on electric guitar with a soaring, rock style solo. Next it’s the turn of Saunders with a rousing trombone feature.

There’s little let up in the energy levels with the similarly hard grooving “Don’t Mention Janet” which features a muscular tenor solo from Stone-Lonergan alongside some equally powerful ensemble playing.

There’s a change of mood, pace and style with the curiously titled “Henchmen Live The Shortest Lives” which features some of the warmest, most lyrical playing on the album. Gorodi is the featured soloist on what sounds like flugel horn – there’s something of the majesty of Kenny Wheeler about his playing.

Piano, bass and drums introduce the quirky “Waitress Winking”, the breezy theme framing solos from Turton on trombone and Linham on baritone. A splendidly eclectic arrangement threatens to collapse into chaos and only just avoids doing so. It all makes for great fun, and thoroughly engaging listening.

The album ends in almost valedictory fashion with “I Remember Fenton”, a surprisingly emotive composition ( in the light of what has gone before) played with an admirable tenderness by the ensemble with the fluent Stone-Lonergan on tenor the featured soloist. Later Perks’ guitar takes flight as the music takes on an anthemic quality. I’m not sure who Fenton was but this music is as much a celebration as a wake.

“Weapons Of Mass Distraction” represents a hugely impressive statement from Linham. It’s one of those albums that reveals more and more on each subsequent listening as one immerses oneself in the details of the arrangements. Everybody plays superbly and there are some superb solos from all sections of the Orchestra throughout the album. Even more important is the remarkably cohesive ensemble sound from a band that probably doesn’t get the chance to get together that often.

Linham brings something of his theatre background to the music and it’s refreshing to hear a band that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The juxtaposition of various musical styles and the obvious delight the band take in playing these colourful and inventive arrangements suggests a Loose Tubes style irreverence but there’s never any sense that today’s young musicians are trying to copy their illustrious forebears. The similarities are in attitude only.

The ALJO appears to be relatively unknown, one of the great secrets of contemporary British jazz. One suspects that this band would be a hugely exciting prospect in the live environment. I’ve seen several of these musicians performing live before in a variety of different contexts but on the evidence of this recording it would be great to see and hear them all together under Linham’s leadership. Let’s hope this wittily titled album helps to raise his profile, it certainly deserves to do so.

 

Weapons Of Mass Distraction

The Andrew Linham Jazz Orchestra

Friday, January 26, 2018

Reviewed by: Ian Mann

Album Review

4 out of 5

Weapons Of Mass Distraction

It’s one of those albums that reveals more and more on each subsequent listening as one immerses oneself in the details of the arrangements.

. The Andrew Linham Jazz Orchestra

“Weapons Of Mass Distraction”

(Self Released)

Andrew Linham is a London born saxophonist, clarinettist, composer and educator based in London. Before returning to the capital he studied at Leeds College of Music where he was the recipient of several awards.

Linham’s main creative outlets with regards to jazz are his quartet and jazz orchestra. In 2012 the quartet, featuring Linham on alto sax, Rob Brockway on piano, Darren McCarthy on double bass and Dan Paton at the drums released the album “Abandoned Silence” which garnered a compelling degree of critical acclaim. The quartet was also featured on the “Yamaha New Jazz Sessions” cover-mount CD which appeared with the January 2011 edition of Jazzwise magazine. The quartet is still an ongoing concern although live performances may present variations on the album line up.

Linham is also involved with theatre work and has written his own full length musical, an adaptation of Kenneth Graham’s “Wind In The Willows” that played a successful residency at the Queens Theatre in Hornchurch in July 2017.

My only previous sighting of Linham was as a member of the Croatian born composer Mak Murtic’s Sun Ra inspired Mimika Orchestra at a 2015 EFG London Jazz Festival performance at the Spice of Life in Soho.  Linham was specialising on clarinet and the line up at this lunchtime show included a number of other musicians who appear on the “Weapons Of Mass Distraction” CD.

Turning now to Linham’s Jazz Orchestra which is chock full of leading young musicians from the still burgeoning London jazz scene. The Orchestra has premièred two sets of new music beginning with 2013’s “The Linferno Suite”, Linham’s first major work. The second, “The Theme of Anarchic Animals” was performed at the 2015 EFG London Jazz Festival.

The amusingly titled “Weapons Of Mass Destruction” was released in October 2017. Linham’s hand written note which accompanied my review copy of the album promised;
“A wild new big band album, a collection of eleven original tunes played by some fantastic London based musicians. There’s tunes about sharks, dinosaurs and a miserable lady called Big Bertha – what more could you want from a contemporary big band album?

What indeed – how could I resist?

The musicians that appear on “Weapons” are some of the best young players on the UK scene, many of them rising stars and band leaders in their own right. The line up comprises of;

Tommy Andrews, Phil Meadows, Riley Stone-Lonergan, Jonathan Chung, Andrew Linham – reeds

Barney Lowe, Miguel Gorodi, Sam Warner, Matt Roberts, Andy Hall – trumpets, flugels

Rosie Turton, Tom Green, Chris Saunders, Barney Medland – trombones

Tom Millar – piano

Rich Perks – guitar

Andrew Robb – bass

Dave Ingamells – drums

As will be seen Linham’s tune titles reflect the humour apparent in that hand written note. This must be a fun band to play in.

The ALJO sound embraces contemporary large ensemble jazz, elements of rock and funk and pastiches of earlier big band styles.

The album commences with the appropriately animated “Screaming Abdabs” which introduces an authentic, exuberant big band sound driven by Ingamells’ smart drumming. The honour of the first solo goes to Jonathan Chung on tenor sax, leader of his own trio, Glasshopper. Another band-leader follows, this time Phil Meadows on incisive, sinuous soprano. Next it’s the turn of trumpeter Sam Warner, a musician I have to admit to being less familiar with, but nevertheless his contribution is both invigorating and convincing. Ingamells then gets to enjoy something of a cameo in the latter stages of this rousing opener.

“Sharking In The Chalet” adopts a slightly more measured and lyrical approach with Tommy Andrews’ airy soprano sax featuring prominently in the arrangement. There’s a flowingly lyrical solo from pianist Tom Millar and some richly textured writing for the ensemble as a whole with some colourful and mellifluous horn voicings.

“I Arsque You This” is typical of the humorous or punning titles that Linham likes to deploy for his compositions. It’s introduced by a peal of laughter and continues in a suitably rowdy and irreverent manner with plenty of low end heft coming from the trombones with Rosie Turton, of Nerija fame, featuring as a soloist. Others to feature prominently in the arrangement include pianist Millar and trumpeter Miguel Gorodi.

“Dinosaur Face” initially harks back to the styles of earlier jazz epochs in a retro style arrangement featuring Millar on piano, Warner on trumpet and later Andrew Robb on double bass. This is rudely interrupted by a savage outburst of rock influenced guitar from Rich Perks which leads to a more anarchic final section that juxtaposes the two styles with the trombone of Chris Saunders and alto sax of Phil Meadows playing prominent roles. This is a real roller coaster of a piece, and one that neatly sums up the spirit of Linham and his band.

There are more retro trappings on the following “Pyrrhic Victory” with its rapidly walking bass line and with Andrews featuring on clarinet. The Orchestra’s joyous, playful updating of early 20th century jazz styles incorporates thrilling solos from Chung on tenor,  Andrews on clarinet and Tom Green on trombone.

“Big Bertha’s Quarter To Twos” keeps the music in the same generic zone with its exaggerated blues arrangement featuring the wailing saxes of Riley Stone-Lonergan on tenor and Linham himself on baritone. Andrews on clarinet and Saunders on trombone are also prominent in an arrangement that reaches right back to New Orleans.

There’s a change of style on “Apples Aren’t The Only Fruit” which is introduced by the choppy funk of Perks’ guitar and dives headlong into 70s jazz funk territory with a lively, hard driving arrangement that includes a raunchy baritone solo from Linham while Perks relishes the chance to cut loose on electric guitar with a soaring, rock style solo. Next it’s the turn of Saunders with a rousing trombone feature.

There’s little let up in the energy levels with the similarly hard grooving “Don’t Mention Janet” which features a muscular tenor solo from Stone-Lonergan alongside some equally powerful ensemble playing.

There’s a change of mood, pace and style with the curiously titled “Henchmen Live The Shortest Lives” which features some of the warmest, most lyrical playing on the album. Gorodi is the featured soloist on what sounds like flugel horn – there’s something of the majesty of Kenny Wheeler about his playing.

Piano, bass and drums introduce the quirky “Waitress Winking”, the breezy theme framing solos from Turton on trombone and Linham on baritone. A splendidly eclectic arrangement threatens to collapse into chaos and only just avoids doing so. It all makes for great fun, and thoroughly engaging listening.

The album ends in almost valedictory fashion with “I Remember Fenton”, a surprisingly emotive composition ( in the light of what has gone before) played with an admirable tenderness by the ensemble with the fluent Stone-Lonergan on tenor the featured soloist. Later Perks’ guitar takes flight as the music takes on an anthemic quality. I’m not sure who Fenton was but this music is as much a celebration as a wake.

“Weapons Of Mass Distraction” represents a hugely impressive statement from Linham. It’s one of those albums that reveals more and more on each subsequent listening as one immerses oneself in the details of the arrangements. Everybody plays superbly and there are some superb solos from all sections of the Orchestra throughout the album. Even more important is the remarkably cohesive ensemble sound from a band that probably doesn’t get the chance to get together that often.

Linham brings something of his theatre background to the music and it’s refreshing to hear a band that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The juxtaposition of various musical styles and the obvious delight the band take in playing these colourful and inventive arrangements suggests a Loose Tubes style irreverence but there’s never any sense that today’s young musicians are trying to copy their illustrious forebears. The similarities are in attitude only.

The ALJO appears to be relatively unknown, one of the great secrets of contemporary British jazz. One suspects that this band would be a hugely exciting prospect in the live environment. I’ve seen several of these musicians performing live before in a variety of different contexts but on the evidence of this recording it would be great to see and hear them all together under Linham’s leadership. Let’s hope this wittily titled album helps to raise his profile, it certainly deserves to do so.

 


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