CD review: 56° North

Mike Lovatt
Featuring: Foden's Band
Conductors: Colin Skinner, Paul Fisher, Michael Fowles
Featuring: Philip Cobb, Danny Marsden, Gareth Small, Jeremy Brown, Graham Harvey, Matt Skelton
WOS CD 139


5 star

It may have taken Mike Lovatt four decades or more to record his first solo album - but for those who enjoy world class brass musicianship it has been well worth the wait.

His choice to undertake it with Foden’s came from an eye-opening concert they played together in 2017. His choice of repertoire however derives from the profound influence of his parents Sheila and Ken, as well as his father-in-law George Morfee - all amateur musicians of passionate enthusiasm and endeavor.

It’s not often CD sleeve notes become essential reading, but here they bring a very personal insight into the inspiration behind an outstanding release.


For a player who has rubbed shoulders in his working life with the late greats of Maurice Murphy and Derek Watkins, as well as the modern tyros such as Philip Cobb (not to mention a certain Seth MacFarlane), what you get, not surprisingly with each of the 13 sumptuous tracks, are performances of remarkable stylistic prowess.

The generosity of spirit in homage and spotlight also adds an extra dimension - from the opening Kenny Baker inspired ‘Mame’ to the stonking ‘Chinatown’ closer via personal touches of gratitude and friendship to colleagues past, present and hopefully future. 

Legendary composers such as Jerry Herman, Frederick Loewe, Duke Ellington, Sergio Mendes, Lesley Bricusse and Jerry Goldsmith couldn’t have wished for anything better - let alone Peter Meechan and Colin Skinner, whose textured, subtly coloured arrangements form the flexible backbone (the accompaniment throughout underpinned by razor-sharp kit-playing) on which the soloist brings his considerable and considered talents to bear.     

The generosity of spirit in homage and spotlight also adds an extra dimension - from the opening Kenny Baker inspired ‘Mame’ to the stonking ‘Chinatown’ closer via personal touches of gratitude and friendship to colleagues past, present and hopefully future. 

Suave coolness

Jazz classics and traditional standards are balanced by stratospheric whizzbangers and deft flugel melancholy.  

‘El Gato’ almost bursts your eardrums, whilst ‘Poppy Song’ is a piccolo delicacy. The suave coolness of ‘So Many Stars’ sits comfortably with the tender ‘Song for Fyfe’; the familiar strains of ‘Pure Imagination’ and ‘Pops is Tops’ leave you smiling in fulfillment as if you’ve just stuffed a handful of  Willy Wonka everlasting gobstoppers in your mouth. 

Everything in fact is delivered with a level of gemlike polish and flawless, sophisticated style.

It's a golden ticket CD release to savour.

Iwan Fox

To Purchase: http://www.worldofbrass.com/100484.html

Play list:

1. Mame (Jerry Herman arr. Roland Shaw/Colin Skinner)
2. Under Mount Lee (Various arr. Colin Skinner)
3. Weary Laddie (Colin Skinner)
4. If Ever I Would Leave You (Frederick Loewe arr. Colin Skinner)
5. El Gato (Duke Ellington arr. Colin Skinner)
6. So Many Stars (Sergio Mendes arr. Colin Skinner)
7. Rhapsody for Trumpet (Colin Skinner)
8. Song for Fyfe (Colin Skinner)
9. Poppy Dance (Andrew Smith arr. Colin Skinner)
10. Song of Hope (Peter Meechan)
11. Pure Imagination (Leslie Bricusse & Anthony Newly arr. Colin Skinner)
12. Pops is Tops (Various arr. Colin Skinner)
13. Chinatown (Jerry Goldsmith adapt. Colin Skinner)

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