Saturday, January 30, 2016

Gerard Presencer - Groove Travels (2016)

Label: Edition Records

Trumpeter Gerard Presencer has a way of always giving sophisticated jazz writing a really hip, rhythmic push. His music always travels and it always grooves, so the title of this album is spot on.
It’s a pity we don’t get new releases from his pen and his trumpet/flugelhorn more often – 14 years is a long time between albums by anyone’s standards – but, hey, let’s not be moaning, let’s just celebrate this fine new release.
After many years teaching at the Royal Academy in London, Gerard is now and sharing his skills in Europe and living in Copenhagen where he is a trumpeter in the Danish Radio Big Band. Groove Travels gives us five Presencer tunes plus McCartney’s Eleanor Rigby, Shorter’s Footprints and I Can’t Stop Loving You – no, not the Ray Charles song, the Leo Sayer one!
That last named, the album’s closer, gets a terrific arrangement with the horns playing echoing patterns behind gently cascading saxophones, Presencer’s trumpet dancing over the whole thing. Ms Rigby becomes more of an Eleanora with a cruising Cuban rhythm helping the song to bowl along, while Footprints is given the kind of catchy groove, chord revoicings and section writing that gives the warhorse a new lease of life. It trots along shaking its mane with pride. Lovely solos from Hans Ulrik on tenor and Steen Hansen on trombone. And from Gerard, natch.
But what about the originals?
The opener, Another Weirdo, lopes along nicely as a fine introduction to Presencer’s rich, multi-layering of the horns with his flugelhorn the solo voice. Blues For Des ups the funkiness and there are some particularly gleaming trumpet section punches, around a stylishly powerful tenor solo from Karl-Martin Almqvist and Presencer on trumpet, with some effective accents from guest Cuban percussionist Eliel Lazo.
Ballad or Tango For The Misunderstood has a gorgeous, woozy sway about it, sinuous lines and a seductively stepping rhythm section sequeing seamlessly between tango and samba-swing. Solos are handed like a baton from Rhodes-player Henrik Gunde, to Presencer and on to Pelle Friddell on soprano. Devil’s Larder is the rock track, with Gunde on organ, guitarist Per Gade suitably forceful and the bari lines cutting through at just the right moments; it’s also a prime example of a big band piece where there is no need for individual solos.
Istanbul Coffee Cup has a touch of the exotic in the form of a snaking soprano line and a jumpy rhythm, but again the abiding enjoyment comes from the big, lush, rounded sound that Presencer’s arrangements give the band.
A lovely album that is both detailed enough to deliver new surprises over the months and years while also being easy on the ear. Let’s just hope we don’t have to wait too many years and months for its successor.

1. Another Weirdo 05:40
2. Blues for Des 09:09
3. Ballad or Tango of the Misunderstood 07:10
4. The Devil's Larder 05:13
5. Eleanor Rigby 06:00
6. Istanbul Coffee Cup 05:53
7. Footprints 06:53
8. Can't Stop Loving You 06:41 

Gerard Presencer - trumpet
Per Gade- guitar
Kaspar Vadsholt- bass
Søren Frost- drums
Henrik Gunde- synths

Nicolai Schultz
Pelle Fridell
Hans Ulrik Jensen
Karl-Martin Almqvist
Anders Gaardmand

Vincent Nilsson
Steen Hansen
André Jensen
Anders Larson
Ola Nordquist

Adam Rapa
Christer Gustafsson
Thomas Kjærgaard
Jens Chr. Gotholdt
Michael Mølhede