CD: Bristolian Thoroughfare, Dominic Howles Septet

Dominic Howles Bristolian ThoroughfareThis lovingly crafted CD is telling a very personal story.  It’s bass Player Dominic Howles statement. He’s written most of the tunes and arranged the unexpected covers. A quick glance at the back of the CD case and a double take is needed to confirm that its not actually a classic Blue Note release, so carefully rendered is the design and typeface, a broad hint if one were needed of the sounds that await and where his musical heart lies.  Bristol residents with long enough memories may recall a youthful Howles gigging in Bristol before touring  in Tommy Chase’s band with fellow Bristolian Ben Waghorn led  to a move to London.  That journey is documented in the liner notes. There’s no mistaking the musical love affair, with lush  arrangements hinting sometimes at Ellington or Gil Evans such as the swinging opening title track or the more wistful Sunset in Vancouver.  Elsewhere the  Davis, Hancock, Shorter small bands of the 60s are evoked with more contemporary material pressed into service. Supergrass’ Moving becomes a surging swing tune with the pulse modulating back and forth hinting at Footprints. Prefab Sprout’s When Love Breaks Down has the sound of a Herbie Hancock arrangement with Nick Tomalin’s  open, shifting piano chords over a bass pedal preparing the way for a closely harmonised statement of the theme. There’s some typically blistering soloing from Steve Fishwick on trumpet, hustled and egged on by Matt Fishwick on drums.  Billy’s Bridge  is a languid ballad with Alison Neale’s flute leading the melody line before giving way to a fluid alto from Jamie O’Donnell.  This is a formidable line-up of London players Howles has assembled with Josephine Davies on tenor completing the line-up, showing her mettle with some gutsy soloing especially on the grooving Ease Up that closes the set. Simon da Silva contributes some lovely muted trumpet on a couple of tracks.  They are playing an exuberant set that feels like a celebration of twenty five years spent living, loving and playing this music. I’ll raise a glass to that and press ‘play’ again.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s