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CD review: King of Swing

Foden's Band
Conductor: Michael Fowles
Featuring: Matt Ford
Soloist: John Barber
World of Sound Recordings: WOS163


Trying to mimic the sound and style of some of the greatest exponents of jazz genres through the medium of the brass band has long been a fool’s errand.

Too often a facsimile of a performance is passed off as colourless plagiarism of the orchestrations of the likes of Nelson Riddle, Count Basie, Duke Ellington or Benny Goodman.

You can however pay tribute by appreciation.

Core of authenticity

And that is what Foden’s have done with this release - one that allows the stylistic core of authenticity to focus on the supple, leonine vocal skills of big band singer Matt Ford.

As shown on their ‘Memories of Christmas’ release, he is a performer who commands an attentive spotlight.

His stylistic approach, like his smile, is as wide as it is handsome. He delivers the American song book standards from Bing Crosby to Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole to Tony Bennett with languid, sophisticated ease - the sinuous lyricism capturing the conversational to the show-stopping without ever losing contact with meaning or measure.

He delivers the American song book standards from Bing Crosby to Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole to Tony Bennett with languid, sophisticated ease - the sinuous lyricism capturing the conversational to the show-stopping without ever losing contact with meaning or measure.

Familiar visitor

Ford is a familiar visitor to the skyscraper hits of ‘New York, New York’, ‘Mack the Knife’, ‘Feeling Good’  and ‘It Was a Very Good Year’.

There is also a great deal to savour as he nimbly navigates between a wise cracking ‘Top Cat’  and rakishly louche ‘Nancy with the Laughing Face’,  a thumper ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’  and cabaret lounge ‘Pennies from Heaven’. 

There is also a great deal to savour as he nimbly navigates between a wise cracking ‘Top Cat’ and rakishly louche ‘Nancy with the Laughing Face’, a thumper ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’ and cabaret lounge ‘Pennies from Heaven’. 

Vocal facets

He has an arsenal of classy vocal facets that add freshness to unexpected detours, whilst the band’s own contributions, despite the odd gritty moment that stilts the smooth oily textures are also played with pliant style – especially the ‘King of Swing’  title track.

Michael Fowles keeps a respectful connected ensemble distance throughout (aided by a fine bit of recording studio ambience by producer Adam Goldsmith); neatly styling a colour palette that has been curated in its limitations with considered musical acknowledgement.

That we suspect comes from the outstanding John Barber (although there is no clear credit in the somewhat limited sleeve notes) who is also on super ‘Fly me to the Moon’  form as well as adding his own classy piano inserts to a hugely enjoyable release.

Iwan Fox 


To purchase: https://www.worldofbrass.com/king-of-swing-cd

Play list:

1. I Can't Stop Loving You (Don Gibson)*
2. The Most Effectual Top Cat (Hoyt Curtin)
3. Pennies from Heaven (Johnny Burke/Arthur Johnston)
4. Boulevard of Broken Dreams (Al Dubin/Harry Warren)
5. King of Swing (John Barber)*
6. The Bare Necessities (Terry Gilkyson)
7. It Was a Very Good Year (Ervin Drake)
8. I've Gotta Be Me (Walter Marks)
9. My Funny Valentine (Lorenz Hart/Richard Rodgers)
Rhythm section feature
10. Feeling Good (Leslie Bricusse/Anthony Newley)
11. L-O-V-E (Milt Gabler & Bert Kaempfert)
12. Fly me to the Moon (Bart Howard)*
Soloist: John Barber
13. Minnie the Moocher (Irving Mills/Cab Calloway)
14. Nancy with the Laughing Face (Phil Silvers/Jimmy Van Heusen)
15. Caravan (Duke Ellington/Juan Tizol)*
16. You Make Me Feel So Young (Mack Gordon/Josef Myrow)
17. Mack the Knife (Bertolt Brecht/Kurt Weill)
18. New York, New York (Fred Ebb/John Kander)
 

*Foden’s Band only

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