Gareth Lockrane’s Grooveyard - The Strut
(Whirlwind Records WR4627. CD Review by Chris Parker)
Given that he has a masters degree from the National Film and Television School, it is perhaps unsurprising that a lot of flautist Gareth Lockrane’s compositions sound evocative and dramatic enough to be film scores, even when – as here – he is providing relatively straightforward ‘soul jazz’ for his aptly named Grooveyard band, completed by Alex Garnett (saxophones, bass clarinet), guitarist Mike Outram, organist Ross Stanley and drummer Nick Smalley.
Funk – even light, soulful funk such as this – is perhaps not readily associated with Lockrane’s instrument, but anyone who’s seen him live (for example with Phil Robson’s ‘Immeasurable Code’ band, where Lockrane held his own with both Robson and US saxophonist Mark Turner) will know just how robust, gutsy and compelling his soloing can be, and here, he draws the ear every time he picks up any of his three flutes.
The versatile Garnett and the consistently imaginative, fluent Outram are also impressive throughout, though the ensemble sound might have been a tad more propulsive and funky had an electric bassist (Laurence Cottle the ideal choice!) been employed instead of the somewhat unemphatic Hammond bass pedals. With Nia Lynn guesting on three tracks with her atmospheric wordless vocals, however, this is a lively, unpretentious album that promises much from the band’s live act, which can be heard at the Forge, Camden, on Friday 9th November, tonight, the opening night of the LJF. A podcast interview with Gareth Lockrane is below.