Reviews of our debut CD:
The trombone has become something of a rarity in jazz today, but this band could well revive its fortunes. Seven trombonists all told - four in the band, plus three guests - demonstrate how marvellous the instrument can sound in talented hands. You'd scarcely believe the variety of style, sound and texture revealed here. The material ranges from Michael Brecker's "Delta City Blues", featuring some impossibly agile playing, to the Pink Panther theme, ending in a concerted downhill slide. No room to list all the names - but they're the cream, from several generations.
Dave Gelly - The Guardian
In some ways, the trombone may seem a rather unforgiving instrument, but this CD shows what it can do in the hands of versatile players. They make their instruments scream, shout, growl, snarl and even burp. Mutes can be added to create all kinds of special effects. But trombones can also sound smooth and sweet, as in several examples where the "trombone choir" is used to good effect. There are also delicate solos on some of the ballads. And, of course, the trombone is ideal for glissandi, which the instrument's slide facilitates like few other devices.
This is the debut album of The Bone Supremacy - a trombone quartet whose members are all part of the Back to Basie big band. Ian Bateman suggested to his colleagues that they might emulate the British trombone band called Five-a-Slide, which was popular in the 1970s and 1980s. The Bone Supremacy was lucky enough to be given the arrangements which were used by Five-a-Slide, and these have been augmented with new charts by Adrian Fry. The four usually add a fifth trombonist and this album features three such guests: Mark Nightingale, Alistair Fry, and Roy Williams (who was an original member of Five-a-Slide).
I was afraid that an ensemble consisting of trombones would sound cumbersome but - unlike such a group as Brass Jaw, composed entirely of front-line instruments, The Bone Supremacy wisely uses a rhythm section of piano, bass and drums to supply the beat. This leaves the trombonists free to play as they will. And excellently they play! There isn't a dud track on the album, and the band deliberately tackles a diverse repertoire to vary the moods and styles.
For example, the CD opens with Jelly Roll Morton's King Porter Stomp, which is in no way stodgy, thanks to some well-arranged choruses from trombones and piano, followed by a high-flying solo from Mark Nightingale. Roy's Blues was written by Roy Williams and features his educated playing, as well as a clear solo from pianist John Pearce, whose tempered solos throughout the CD make a nice contrast with the trombones.
Ian Bateman is best known in the world of traditional jazz but he handles The End of a Love Affair with beautiful restraint. Other slightly unexpected items are the theme from The Pink Panther (which captures the slinky mood of the original); Michael Brecker's Delta City Blues, which opens with a glorious cadenza from Mark Nightingale and suitably slides into a New Orleans feel; Stardust, which makes the most of the trombone harmonies; and Whistle While You Work, which threatens to lumber along but lightens up nicely when it enters swing tempo.
Stardust makes the most of the trombone harmonies; Cute spotlights drummer Pete Cater; and Donald Fagen's Maxine contains some rich harmonising. Not Like This makes even more of the harmonic possibilities by showcasing all seven trombonists without the rhythm section. The album ends with Home, a lovely tune which merits wider exposure.
On the evidence of this debut disc, The Bone Supremacy is supreme.
Tony Augarde - Music Web International
From Digby Fairweather after 100 Club Gig 28th May
Just a note to say 'thank you so much' for your generous - and hugely greeted - appearance at the 100 today. I'm sure all my Executive and Trustees at the National Jazz Archive would want to say how much it was appreciated!
Review: 'Bone Supremacy: Chicken Shed, Friday March 6th
I had been looking forward to this gig, 'Bone Supremacy's first outing. It didn't disappoint, either as music, or indeed as entertainment.
After a full year's worth of thought and preparation, the band's co-leaders Adrian Fry and Ian Bateman could finally have some fun tonight as they looked back. They dragged up some of the more idiotic names which they had rejected for the band-'Bone Jovi and Sludge Pump were two of their luckier escapes. Tonight they were free to make light all of the planning, the transcribing (Bateman), the arranging (Fry) , and of all their doubts along the way.
Because, aided by the adrenaline of the occasion, by some great arrangements, by the Chicken Shed's very good sound system, and by an audience definitely out to enjoy itself (rather than watch Comic Relief...), 'Bone Supremacy delivered superb results throughout.
The band consists of the trombone section of the Back to Basie Orchestra - Andy Flaxman on lead trombone, Ian Bateman, Adrian Fry and Chris Gower on bass trombone, plus an invited guest, tonight Mark Bassey. Plus a very strong rhythm section: the unique Dankworth staffer John Horler on piano, the sonorous Jerome Davis on bass, and the flawless Pete Cater at the drum kit.
But surely, this combination all evening, it might have its limitations? Not a bit. Don't underestimate the range of colours and moods which these players could conjure up, and the finesse and subtlety and range of writing in the charts. Also, the band's musical personalities are well matched. Bateman produces a commanding sound- notably on Ken Woodman's chart "The Bone Idle Rich" ; Flaxman is far gentler, but he executed the high-lying parts of arrangements like "Violets" and "Blanket of Blues" with awe-inspiring grace; Fry is as fluent and fluid as a soloist as he is canny as an arranger; Bassey has an irrepressible character, and infectious sense of humour, and an astonishing agility around the instrument; and whenever Gower on bass trombone received the nod to express his point of view, he spoke it low and loud and clear.
You also get a good sense with this band of infectious team spirit, of guys well-organised in a common purpose, and completely on top of their game. Bassey's arrangement of "In the beginning" had the trombonists imitating "primordial slugs" at the beginning of the chart, and then all five outstretching arms, as one, for their unison sixth position bottom F naturals at the end. (There were quite a few trombonists in the audience last night, so it was easy for me to find snippets of completely useless information like this!)
This is a great unit. How rare it must be that effort plus talent can produce a band which is 100% gig-ready at its first gig, and also laughs and entertains.
'Bone Supremacy deserves, and is ready for BBC Radio Two or Jazz Line-Up plus a few festivals. Because this is not just a labour of love by top professionals, but also a labour of great fun.
(Sebastian Scotney - London Jazz )
Thanks again for Saturday - the trombones made it hugely special for me and Anna - and something that we'll always remember. I'm sorry that you had to revert to playing 'on the beat' in the church (I'm guessing you all prefer to stick to Jazz where possible?) - but it was absolutely fantastic and sounded incredible in the church. The jazz set was obviously fantastic, and something thoroughly enjoyed by everyone ... it sounded fantastic and we had great comments from everyone on the music. Hopefully you've got some more fans to add to the list, and certainly Anna and I will be searching out your up-coming gigs!
Please pass on our most sincere thanks to everyone in the band - as it really did make it special. Also if you do have and address for Mark Nightingale - or can pass on a thank you him too - please do.
Dave and Anna Garfield - both trombonists who booked us for their wedding reception ... and ceremony!