Big Screen – Take One
(Linn Records AKD 504. CD Review by Peter Jones)
Take One is a collection of nine tunes taken from 20th century shows and films. It features the combined talents of this project’s prime mover, the drummer Matt Skelton, bassist Tom Farmer and award-garlanded pianist David Newton. Not bad as an opening proposition, so it comes as no surprise that this highly professional trio have duly delivered a highly polished album, beautifully recorded by Chris Traves in someone’s Eastbourne home.
With the exception of Vangelis’s theme to Chariots of Fire, Take One is solid Hollywood: mainstream, mostly upbeat, toe-tapping stuff that will be extremely familiar to the audience. There’s no truck with European cinema here, no moody ECM-style introspection, nor even any hint of postwar musical dissonance. The album is dominated by that chirpy kind of vibe you used to get from the Dudley Moore Trio, back in the days when there was jazz on TV. The musicians play with that close, listening togetherness that generates intensity, the kind of intensity you only really get with piano trios.
Things gallop off in fine style with the theme from the 1964 nose-twitching TV sitcom Bewitched. According to Peter Erskine’s liner notes, the show’s producers were originally planning to use Frank Sinatra’s version of Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered, then realized it would be too expensive, and asked composers Howard Greenfield and Jack Keller to come with an alternative within the week. This tune was the result.
Most of Take One is uptempo, including tunes more commonly performed as ballads, such as Old Man River (from Show Boat, 1927) and On The Street Where You Live (My Fair Lady, 1956). As you would expect with such a Hollywood focus, the quieter numbers are played sweet, pretty and sentimental rather than deep, thoughtful and melancholy: The Heather on the Hill (Brigadoon, 1947), Randy Newman’s When She Loved Me (here mistitled When Somebody Loved Me) from Toy Story 2, 1999, and Wouldn’t It Be Loverly (My Fair Lady again).
Take One… hmm, what are the chances of Take Two: The Sequel?
Big Screen have dates across the UK from now until September. Tour Dates from Linn Records