COMPOSERS: Gary Crosby,Wayne Shorter
ALBUM TITLE: Gary Crosby’s Nu Troop
PERFORMER: Gary Crosby (db), Alex Wilson (p), Robert Fordjour (d), Denys Baptiste (ts), Tony Kofi (as, bs), Neil Yates (t, flg, fl)
CATALOGUE NO: CD 01
Gary Crosby is a fine bassist and one of the most important British bandleaders; he is also the founder of Dune. In August last year, at the French Jazz à Vienne Festival, his sextet Nu Troop competed in the Concours International d’Orchestres against 15 bands from Canada, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the UK, and won the prize for best ensemble.
This included a cash award and the honour, on the last night of the festival, of playing the opening concert on the main stage in the open-air Roman amphitheatre, to 8,000 people. All the pieces they played at Vienne were from this superb CD Migrations which, like many of the best small group jazz albums, seems to have the unity of a suite, even though in this case each member of the group has contributed one and sometimes two of the nine band compositions. The tenth and final piece is a short but boisterous version of Wayne Shorter’s ‘Pinocchio’.
The rhythm section, stoked by the excellent Robert Fordjour, is a brilliantly flexible and dynamic unit, handling changes of tempo or feel with masterful ease; the main soloists – Yates, Baptiste, Kofi and Wilson – are strong and eloquent. The compositions are also impressive, each seeming to breathe in its own way, with its own organic drama.
The music covers a wide spectrum of feeling from the powerhouse rhythm and exuberance of the title track, composed by Yates, to the lyricism of Tony Kofi’s ‘Ode to Ama’, and the whole album projects a profound humanity and optimism. Saxophonist Denys Baptiste has been working with Nu Troop since 1992, and was awarded third prize in the best soloist category at Vienne.