REVIEW: ‘Tributes’ – Marius Neset

IT’S ALMOST TEN YEARS since Marius Neset’s ‘Golden Xplosion’ onto the European jazz scene with his debut album of that name, on the Edition Records label. Since then, this master of remarkable saxophonic technique has forged a prolific career, recording an impressive series of albums (most of them reviewed at this site). Neset describes latest ACT Music release, Tributes, as marking “a new phase”…

Read my full review at LondonJazz News…

Released on 25 September 2020 and available from ACT Music.


Marius Neset tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, compositions/arrangements

DANISH RADIO BIG BAND, conducted by Miho Hazama
Erik Eilertsen trumpet
Lars Vissing trumpet
Thomas Kjærgaard trumpet
Gerard Presencer trumpet (solo on Children’s Day Part 2)
Mads la Cour trumpet (solo on Leaving The Dock)
Peter Fuglsang alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute, clarinet
Nicolai Schultz alto saxophone, flute
Hans Ulrik tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, bass clarinet (solo on Tribute)
Frederick Menzies tenor saxophone, clarinet (solo on Children’s Day Part 1)
Anders Gaardmand baritone saxophone (solo on Children’s Day Part 1)
Peter Dahlgren trombone (solo on Bicycle Town Part 1)
Vincent Nilsson trombone
Kevin Christensen trombone
Annette Saxe bass trombone
Jakob Munck Mortensen bass trombone, tuba
Per Gade guitar (solo on Children’s Day Part 1)
Henrik Gunde piano (solo on Leaving The Dock)
Kaspar Vadsholt double bass, electric bass
Søren Frost drums

ACT Music – ACT 9051-2 (2020)

‘Groove Travels’ – Gerard Presencer, Danish Radio Big Band

Groove Travels

THE STATURE of this grooooving big band release from trumpeter, flugelhornist and composer Gerard Presencer has been building (for this reviewer) across a period of weeks – and now blazes in all its glory.

A cursory listen might suggest ‘light’ or ‘smooth’ jazz – which, on a surface level, could be understandable. But when the abundant arrangements and instrumental precision contained within these 53 minutes firmly take root, Groove Travels begins to blossom into an impressive big band album for the here and now, infused with collected world rhythms and sumptuous, often striking harmonic detail. London-born Presencer’s credentials, over the years, boast a raft of big names (including work with Stan Tracey, Herbie Hancock, Clark Tracey, Johnny Dankworth, Chick Corea, Charlie Watts, Peter King) and he identifies the big band environment as “an inspiring and nurturing place to meet and play for improvising musicians.”

With all that strength of experience, Gerard Presencer absorbs the subject of this album at will, his international journeyings capturing the cultural grooves that form the bases of these extended works. On this, his fourth solo album, the majority are his original compositions; but he and the Danish Radio Big Band (with whom he has established a fruitful working relationship over a number of years) also throw oblique light on Wayne Shorter, Lennon & McCartney and Billy Nichols (if you’re struggling with that last one, begin recalling the 1970s chart hits of Leo Sayer!).

The leader’s interpretations of ‘groove’ are remarkably varied – from spacious, slow-burning Another Weirdo (which provides the ground for his mellifluous, echoic flugelhorn extemporisations) to the stateside funk-drive of Blues for Des, where superb canonic horn cascades accompany Shorteresque tenor fluidity and that unmistakable flugel mobility; nine minutes which brim with restless vigour and more than a hint of Freddie Hubbard. A soft bossa – Ballad or Tango of the Misunderstood – is characterised by the sublime, dreamy rise and fall of dazed horn textures (though with a somewhat abrupt closing fade), whilst Devil’s Larder‘s bold guitar riff is accentuated by Hammond and fabulous sax ensemble work, frequently hitting a dazzling saturation of colour – certainly a cinematic big band thriller.

In selecting and arranging Lennon & McCartney’s familiar Eleanor Rigby, any immediate impression of muzak is quickly dispelled by its infectious, ticking momentum; and Presencer’s voluble flugel is enhanced by jabbing Fender Rhodes, George Benson-style guitar and waves of gutsy brass. Istanbul Coffee Cup‘s mysterious rhythmic pulse (noted down in a restaurant in the Turkish capital) oscillates dramatically with swirling, cacophonous brilliance, whilst Wayne Shorter’s evergreen Footprints evokes, here, the San Francisco streetscapes of Ironside and Kojak through its myriad horn dissonances, rasping trombone clusters, clattering percussion and luxurious solo lines.

And that top ten hit? – well, for all hopeless romantics out there, I Can’t Stop Loving You meltingly ebbs and flows to Presencer’s soft trumpet lead and richly-conceived harmonies, elevating it high above its trite, teen-crush origins (plus a self-declared nod to the great Kenny Wheeler at its close).

Dig into the detail of this album, and the combined eloquence of Gerard Presencer and the Danish Radio Big Band becomes increasingly evident.

Released worldwide on 29 January 2016, Groove Travels is available from Edition Records’ Bandcamp page as CD, limited edition 12″ vinyl and high-quality download.


Gerard Presencer flugelhorn, trumpet

Danish Radio Big Band:
Michael Mølhede trumpet
Christer Gustafsson trumpet
Thomas Kjærgaard trumpet
Jens Chr. Gotholdt trumpet
Vincent Nilsson trombone
Steen Hansen trombone
Anders Larson trombone
Ola Nordquist trombone
André Jensen tuba, bass trombone
Nicolai Schultz alto saxophone
Peter Fuglsang soprano saxophone
Pelle Fridell soprano saxophone
Hans Ulrik Jensen tenor saxophone
Karl-Martin Almqvist tenor saxophone
Anders Gaardmand tenor saxophone
Per Gade guitar
Kaspar Vadsholt double and electric basses
Søren Frost drums
Henrik Gunde Fender Rhodes, Hammond organ, synths

with special guests:

Adam Rapa lead trumpet
Eliel Lazo percussion

Edition Records – EDN1065 (2016)

‘Return to the Fire’ – Tim Garland


THERE’S a school of thought that says you should never go back – y’know, that was then, and now is now. But thank goodness the rule book can occasionally, for all the right reasons, be ripped up and emphatically trodden into the ground!

Back in 1995, rising British saxophonist Tim Garland began to put together and record his fourth solo project, Enter the Fire, with colleagues Jason Rebello (piano), Mick Hutton (bass) and Jeremy Stacey (drums), as well as bringing Gerard Presencer (trumpet, flugelhorn) into the fold; and the album was eventually completed and released in 1997. Garland recalls how, soon after, whilst staying at the New York apartment of vibraphonist Joe Locke, the pianist Billy Childs turned up – and, on hearing the album, requested a copy to give to a friend… who just turned out to be jazz icon Chick Corea. Thus began Tim Garland’s long friendship with Corea (quoted as saying of the saxophonist, “I wanted some of that fire in my band”) and consequently, many years of shared international success which show no sign of waning.

Twenty years down the line, now greatly-renowned UK saxophonist and composer Garland has rekindled the excitement of that significant moment by re-connecting with the same personnel, along with guest appearances from newer names on the scene – Tom Farmer, James Maddren and Ant Law – plus respected bassist Laurence Cottle. The result is a new 40-minute recording which focuses on the revered (and now resurgent) era of vinyl, offering a combination of four originals and two arrangements which, whilst redolent of late ’90s and earlier acoustic strains of straight-ahead jazz, feel as relevant and as fresh as ever, especially with a final, more contemporary flourish.

Tim Garland has long possessed an unmistakable signature sound – his assured vibrato and a no-holes-barred approach to lyrical phrasing, whilst also scaling the topmost heights of the register – and this album continually flows and coruscates to that potent combination, as well as affording the whole band the space to stretch out. Nine-minute opener Abiding Love achieves exactly that, its classic sound bubbling to the smooth meld of tenor and flugel against Rebello’s crystalline piano, which Presencer then cuts through with customary, tonally-bright trumpet improvisation. J.J. Johnson’s Lament is the perfect platform for Garland’s rich, characterful tenor lead (as the melodies begin to cascade freely, it really couldn’t be anyone else) with such a wonderfully spacial quality created by his quartet of Rebello, Farmer and Maddren. And title track Return to the Fire swings with unequivocal verve, led by Rebello’s sparkling runs – as if to proudly state “we’re back” – and certainly not withholding anything as Stacey’s deliberate drum rhythms cleverly shift gear into a pulsating final section.

Beautifully inquiring Valse pour Ravel somehow suggests the freedoms of a Pat Metheny / Lyle Mays composition, with Garland taking an eloquent soprano lead over romanticised piano, and Presencer’s flugel dreamily intertwining or magically dancing in unison. McCoy Tyner’s sumptuous Search for Peace remains one of jazz’s most haunting melodies, and here it develops into a particularly engaging, near-ten-minute exploration as Garland’s tenor revels in its unhurriedness, with Rebello taking the Tyner role exquisitely. To close, All Our Summers ripples to complex bass clarinet and electric guitar riffs over jabbing Fender Rhodes (Garland an especially versatile and colourful exponent of the bass clarinet) in a groove that perhaps harks back to those early NYC days, and almost fading before its time.

Released by Edition Records on 2 October 2015, Return to the Fire is available only in 12″ vinyl and digital download formats – at Bandcamp, as well as from online retailers and record stores. The lack of CD physicality might hinder some collectors, but this is a recording whose confidence, fluency and out-and-out jazz feel-good becomes irresistible.


Tim Garland saxophones, bass clarinet
Jason Rebello piano, Fender Rhodes
Gerard Presencer trumpet, flugelhorn (tracks 1, 3, 4 & 5)
Jeremy Stacey drums (tracks 1, 3, 4, 5 & 6)
Mick Hutton double bass (tracks 1, 4 & 5)
Tom Farmer double bass (tracks 2 & 3)
Laurence Cottle electric bass (track 6)
James Maddren drums (tracks 2 & 6)
Ant Law guitar (track 6)

Edition Records – EDNLP1063 (2015)