Re-Birth Octet

Friday 23 Jun 2023

Chris Coull – trumpet, Andy Panayi – alto sax, Bob McKay – baritone sax, Mark Bassey – trombone, Jim Rattigan – french horn, Gabriel Garrick – sousaphone, George Trebar – bass, Joe Edwards – drums.

 This wonderful evening stemmed from Chris Coull’s superb arrangements of  tunes mainly from the Birth of the Cool album, performed with panache and perfection by an octet of musicians who were totally together in their ensemble playing and splendidly individualistic in their solos.

In his introduction, Chris reminded us that when these tunes were first recorded – ten years or so before the LP was released - it was on 78s, which limited their playing time to about three and a half minutes. So when, two years ago, he wanted to put a group together to play this music, he had no real alternative than to write extended arrangements – a task he achieved with great imagination whilst maintaining the stylistic impact of the originals. It also meant that there was more scope to incorporate short solos for many of the musicians within each number. Within that context it’s almost invidious to pick out particular musicians and individual solos, so I shall limit such remarks.

Nine out of the thirteen numbers played were from the Birth of the Cool album: Jeru gave us a mellow but lively start. Chris had the first of many bright solos and Jim’s later one, on French horn, was delightfully flowing. The solid foundation provided by George and Joe throughout the evening was immediately evident. Joe is a young man with great empathy and skill who, I believe, will have a very bright future in the jazz world. Budo was brisker, more complex and enlivened by a typically energetic solo from Andy. Israel gave Bob and George a chance to shine and the fast tempo of Move prompted a storming solo from Mark. Godchild ended the first half and included  a demonstration of the nimbleness with which a sousaphone can be played and an excellent solo from Joe, using only brushes.

In the second half, the Birth of the Cool numbers were Boplicity (a favourite of mine) with a lovely, fluid baritone solo from Bob, Rocker, Moon Dreams with beautiful ensemble playing and Rouge.

Photos from the event

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