GILES THORNTON JAZZ ORCHESTRA – Be In Today

GILES THORNTON JAZZ ORCHESTRA – Be In Today

You can find ex-Homewood student Giles on Twitter: @GTmusic_giles

FMR records: FMRCD485-0318

Emma Kenrick: flute; Camille Curtis: alto flute; Livia Frankish: clarinet; Tommy Andrews: clarinet; Rachel Kerry: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone; Tom Richards: soprano sax; Daniel McConkey: alto saxophone; Sam Knight: tenor saxophone; Matt Grenz: tenor saxophone; Gustavo Clayton Marucci: bass clarinet; Toby Brazier: trumpet, flugelhorn; Ewan Gilchrist: trumpet, flugelhorn; Magnus Pickering: trumpet, flugelhorn; Finn Bradley: trumpet, flugelhorn; Tom Dunnett: trombone; Ed Parr: trombone; Chris Saunders: trombone; Adam Crighton: bass trombone, tuba; David Swan: piano, synth, Hammond; Neil Birse: piano, synth, Hammond; Marcus Pritchard: electric bass, upright bass; James Maltby: electric guitar, acoustic guitar; Mike Walker: electric guitar; Boz Martin Jones: drums; Dan Benn: cello; Crawford Mack: voice; Liane Carroll: voice.
Recorded by Giles Thornton and Neil Birse at Fish Factory Studios.

Giles Thornton is (at the time of my writing this) about to graduate from the Guildhall School of Music; his final recital was earlier in June and yet he has already composed a couple of suites for jazz orchestra and found time to work as copyist / arranger for Metropole Orkest and Liane Carroll (who guests on a delicious cover of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Case of You’, track 7). This release is crowd funded and I’m sure everyone who contributed will be delighted with this set and looking forward to contributing to his next outing (on the other hand, if this gets the reception it deserves, perhaps he won’t need crowd funding again).

Thornton’s ‘Be in today’ suite addresses the emotional  turmoil of modern life, with themes that relate to running from things (‘Just keep running’) to feelings of being an outsider (‘Ballad of the Unnoticed’) to reaching breaking point (‘Over the edge’) and reaching a sense of calmness (‘Reflections’) that allow you to live in the moment (‘Be in today’).  Each part of the suite captures the underlying mood that the titles convey, through elegantly melodic themes and dazzling ensemble playing.  Solos are well taken by Mike Walker (track 1), Gustavo Clayton Marucci (track 3) and Tom Richards (track 7).  Crawford Mack and Liane Carroll sing on tracks 6 and 7.  I particularly enjoyed the way that the two pianos work together in the track 4 and the soft cello introduction to Liane Carroll’s husky delivery of the lyrics to track 7 (played at sedate pace that delivers an emotional punch that felt much stronger than the original).

This set demonstrate not only a strong appreciation of the history of jazz (with echoes from many eras of Big Band sounds from the 1940s to present day) but also a superbly nuanced ear for balancing the sounds of different instruments and building multilayered harmonies.  As a piece of large ensemble jazz, this is amazing work; as a debut recording it is staggering.  I only have the download version but this will certainly feature as one of my favourite CDs of this year.

Reviewed by Chris Baber