Sunday, May 31, 2015

Ian Chalk – “Dreamsville” album review

Throughout the history of jazz music there have clearly been a number of luxurious cover versions of recognisable, contemporaneous tunes, some that have gone on to become known as “standards”. This latest release from Ian Chalk, “Dreamsville”, continues in that tradition by enhancing a number of tunes that are etched into the music lovers’ collective memory, with affectionate trumpet and orchestral arrangements. What is particularly noticeable about this collection of tunes is how brave the trumpet player has been in tackling them. A casual observer may initially be wary of an orchestral version of that Holy Grail “Wichita Lineman” or another version of “All The Things You Are”. But this collection needs to be given a chance and allowed to work its way into the listener’s soul.

It would not be too lofty to think of the arrangements here in the same frame of reference as Miles Davis’ “Sketches of Spain”. There is a deep and sensuous melancholy underpinning tracks such as “Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child”, “A House Is Not A Home” and “Skylark” that is a masterpiece of musical production. To fully encompass the fragility of sound these pieces are capable of is an exceptional skill.  “Dreamsville” and “The Rose” are awash with lavish and melancholic string arrangements by George Hall providing an intimate backdrop for the restrained trumpet lines. Music such as this never ages and will always be part of the music lover’s lexicon. “Creepin’” softly lifts the mood with a subtle, yet driving, funky grounding and the album concludes with spine tingling version of Branford Marsalis’ “Mo’ Better Blues” from the 1990 film soundtrack.

One of the most important lessons to take away from Ian Chalks’ “Dreamsville” album is to not be afraid of encompassing the string arrangements in jazz. Think Miles Davis, think Charlie Parker “…With Strings”, and allow yourself the luxury of the drifting through these seas of sound. Marvel also at the “classic” jazz evoking cover which perfectly complements the music and then, when you have gorged on these delicacies, treat yourself to last years “Down Time” album which illustrates what a moving player Ian Chalk is in a less opulent, but no less poignant, environment. 

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