Gaya

COMPOSERS: David Beebee
LABELS: Beeboss
PERFORMER: David Beebee (bg), Gareth Lockrane (f, af, picc), Sam Mayne, Tony Woods (as), Ian Price (ts, ss), Dave Priseman (t, fl), Barnaby Dickinson, Trevor Mires (tb), Patrick Naylor (g), Milo Fell (d), Robert Millett (perc)
CATALOGUE NO: bbcd 203 (distr. www.beebossrecords.co.uk)

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Here’s an album with something for everyone. It’s funky and worldly, exuberant then thoughtful, tight where it matters – yet loose. Bandleader/composer/bassist David Beebee says the pieces were inspired by his travels to India and the Himalayas, but thereno obvious link. The title track is based on a nine-beat cycle heard in a Tibetan monastery.

The dramatic arrangement, however, with its slick brass choir, owes more to Detroit than Lhasa. In ‘The Somnambulist’, the horns and flute arise from a bed of rustling percussion and proceed to wake up the whole house. ‘Raspberry Jam’ is a fast-paced R & B groove (complete with fuzz guitar break) that threatens to come apart at the seams but is ultimately held together by the leader’s supple, fretless bass lines.

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This large small group (can nine pieces be called a big band?) can play at gale force seven but is compact enough for its players to hear and be heard. The arrangements are sufficiently closely written to hold the listener’s attention but not so constraining that the soloists can’t cut loose. Altogether it is a gem of an album from a lesser-known leader. And the word is that Oxford-based Beebee’s latest travels took him to South America and that a quartet recording is imminent. Garry Booth