Young composer and trombonist Tom Green returns to the venue where he launched his debut album Skyline in January this year. Since then his band of brothers from the Royal Academy have honed their craft touring up and down the UK; their grooves now as sharp as their button-down shirts.
Green's precocious compositional skills have heightened. It is the newer pieces that stand out. 'Seatoller' – dedicated to a dawn drive through the Cumbrian landscape - is propelled by tidal grooves that flow through different time feels. Tightly plotted counter-melodies disassemble into a pointillist shout chorus. Green's use of collective improvisation is striking throughout. He successfully transposes this compositional device, better associated with a New Orleans march, into Kenny Wheeler soundscapes.
The stand out chart is 'Jack O’Lantern', a playful folk inspired fugue. Tenor sax man Sam Miles features on an irrepressible theme worthy of Bob Mintzer. Miles’ melody is enriched by deps Miguel Gorodi on flugel and Tommy Andrews on soprano, scything spectrum-like in counterpoint. The horns give way to the heft of Misha Mullov-Abaddo’s bass, paired with the craft industry of pianist Sam James on an off-beat breakdown anchored by drummer Scott Chapman.
Green’s background in physics shines through on a series of compositions that refer to light. Another - ‘Winter Sun’ - is a tribute to David Attenborough, a dedication that conjures the ideal imagery to match Green’s landscaping of sound. Amidst complex polyphony, everything is clearly illuminated.
Ending the first set with an arrangement of Hoagy Carmichael’s Skylark – re-imagined into chaotic chorales and languid lead lines - the band are surprised to hear from the compere that Hoagy Carmichael Jnr is actually in the audience. When the gig ends Carmichael Jnr shakes Green’s hand, recognising a composer of rare talent.
– Liam Izod