Review: Jazz by any stretch of the imagination is America’s most original art form. The genre is also an institution, ambassador to the world and one of United States’ greatest exports. Based upon that premise and the idea of artistic exchange, the artistic community should always expect to receive an import with similar degrees of novelty. With that thought in mind, let me examine the music of a British import by the name of Colin Byrne, one of the finest interpreters of jazz in the United Kingdom. Colin’s latest CD entitled Leaving For Home is his first and he holds the distinction of handcrafting seven dynamic tracks of original compositions without compromising his creative flow of ideas. In addition, he has also included a jazz dimension seldom seen in mainstream America—an amalgamation of big band style with underlying influences of pianist Duke Ellington and bassist Charles Mingus, two of the finest innovators in the history of the United States. Basically, what Colin has done on Leaving For Home is best described as an inherently explosive and spontaneous release. He has done so with strong personal convictions that have been meshed with some intensely colorful compositions. What is just as captivating about this CD are the conceptualized thought processes that went into the album’s overall development.
Beginning in February 2005, Colin Byrne decided to form an orchestra that would only play what he described as “exclusively original jazz music.” Upon reflection the whole idea seemed rather bizarre at the time, due to what many believe can be found in an intensely popular smooth jazz movement that has been proliferating the minds of most artists. What first began as a simple conceptualized idea took immediate flight and was soon fueled by an unanticipated overwhelming response to Colin’s music. The enthusiastic response from the general public was rather unexpected to say the least, but no sooner than one could say “back at cha’,” Big Band Byrne became a newly launched jazz activated sound energy ray.From then on, Colin Byrne knew beyond the shadow of any doubt that his style of jazz coupled with some fiercely talented musicians would captivate anyone within earshot of his newly formed sound energy experience.
Leaving For Home was recorded in June 2005; and since that time, Big Band Byrne has been titillating the jazz scene with an impressive array of tracks. On top of that, Colin’s chosen array of band members who accompany him on his very original improvisational jaunt through jazz has complemented the CD very nicely. Collectively these strategically placed group of guys do mesh well together and their chemistry is delightful. Front start to finish, Leaving For Home is a passion filled musical delight, a recording that goes the distance towards building a foundation of energized exuberance. This CD is a musical excursion back into time, when bands contained personnel that were allowed to exhibit their talent without the confines of commercial limitations. Both bandleader and sidemen alike played amongst themselves, while weaving a web of intuitive delight. All in all, Leaving For Home capturesone’s immediate attention without any degree of reservation. Every member of the band has a role to play, from the clarinetist to the bassist and up the ladder to Colin Byrne.
Leaving For Home is an album that reminds true jazz connoisseurs of what the big bang theory was all about during the swing era. This orchestra role-plays with a variety of influences, while highlighting a truly amazing piece of work from the United Kingdom of jazz. Just as the United States has exported jazz as a form of entertainment and artistic expression, Colin Byrne has definitely introduced a European import of the highest caliber. I could go on and on about Leaving For Home; but if I did, it would not be enough to adequately describe a truly phenomenal trek into the realm of Big Band Byrne. This CD is a highly evolved tribute to the days of Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, Stan Kenton, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis, Bunny Berigan, Louis Bellson, Clark Terry and a host of others too numerous to mention. But make no mistake about it; Colin Byrne and big band jazz go together with a breath of fresh air seldom experienced in recent years. As you listen to Leaving For Home, place the albumunder the letter ‘B’ for a brilliantly conceived recording that is one of the finest recordings of its kind to date.
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