Groove Travels by Gerard Presencer & Danish Radio Big Band, review by John McBeath

Groove Travels

Album: Groove Travels
Artist:   Gerard Presencer & Danish Radio Big Band
Release Date: January 2016
Label:    Edition/Planet

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Born in London, Gerard Presencer is something of a trumpet prodigy: at age 11 he was the youngest trumpeter with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra and at 18 began playing with pianist Stan Tracey. He went on to perform with John Dankworth, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Chris Potter and many others. He’s won the British Jazz Awards four times and is an active jazz educator. In 2010 he became a soloist with the Danish Radio Big Band and moved to Copenhagen.

Presencer says he’s taken six years to get this album of his arrangements together; five of its eight tracks are originals and most feature the rich mellow tone of his flugelhorn. The sumptuous opener Another Weirdo is a relaxed piece demonstrating Presencer’s compositional and arranging skills, as well as a virtuoso technique, his flugelhorn solo cutting through the precise big band scoring with great flair and invention.

Blues for Des begins with a tricky flugelhorn cadenza in a West African rhythm Presencer describes as either a slow beat in three or a fast bar of seven and five. Whatever, it brings some clever percussion from renowned guest artist Cuban drummer Eliel Lazo and smart solos from the composer and Karl-Martin Almqvist’s tenor sax.
There are a couple of inspired interpretations of pop songs: Eleanor Rigby and I Can’t Stop Loving You, plus a powerful version of Wayne Shorter’s Footprints.

The ensemble playing and writing in Groove Travels is sophisticated and exciting with splendid soloists and a joie de vivre obvious throughout.

Review originally published by the Australian

For just over 24 years I have been a freelance writer, publishing in that time a wide variety of genres: news items, live concert reviews, travel articles, features, personality profiles, and CD and book reviews. I have written for various in-flight magazines, The Adelaide Review, The Republican, The Bulletin, The Australian, The Advertiser, The Melbourne Herald Sun and several regional newspapers. In 1994 I won a national travel-writing prize sponsored by The Australian newspaper, which led to my writing regularly for that paper. Since 2003 I have been jazz critic for The Advertiser and The Australian newspapers, on average contributing weekly to each paper. In 2005 I won a national Jazz Writing Competition sponsored by the Wangaratta Jazz Festival.