The French horn has a niche place in jazz, despite making some really famous appearances – in the Claude Thornhill, Gil Evans, Gunther Schuller and Carla Bley big bands. Its appearances as a strong solo instrument in a smaller combo are even rarer. So on Friday there is an unusual treat for Birmingham jazz lovers: Jim Rattigan’s Pavillon with the leader on French horn.
The band – a 12-piece so working in the field between combo and big band – has an album out with the jolly English title Strong Tea and is currently touring. This gig for Birmingham Jazz is at the Blue Orange Theatre in the Jewellery Quarter.
The attractions of the band are not limited to the leader’s novel instrument – it is made up of some of the strongest players in the country, including Martin Speake and Andy Panayi on saxophones, Percy Pursglove and Robbie Robson on trumpets, Jeremy Price on trombone, Hans Koller on piano and Gene Calderazzo on drums.
Rattigan’s CV includes Carla Bley, Charlie Haden, Paul McCartney, the Royal Philharmonic and Adele.
The album shows the kind of skilled arrangements one would expect from a man who has considerable experience in classical as well as jazz groups, and in the studio as well as in concert, but he also gives his band generous soloing space. He has said he writes very much with specific players in mind.
Find out how it all turns out at the Blue Orange Theatre on Friday, where I am sure copies of Strong Tea (Pavillon Records) will be on sale.
- Full details of the Birmingham gig which starts at 7.45pm on Friday 2 December are HERE.
- Full details of other dates and all things Pavillon are HERE.