Reuben Fowler
Between Shadows
Edition **** RECOMMENDED
Well this is quite brilliant: there’s no other way of putting it. Fowler may well be seen as the most exciting and accomplished jazz trumpeter to emerge on the British jazz scene since Guy Barker first dazzled in the 1990s with Into the Blue. And it’s somehow appropriate that Barker is on hand to conduct Fowler’s band,a big band that somehow has an intimate subtlety, power, and warmth that is quite staggering with its modal facility, improvisational flair and believable swinging approach. Already with some acclaim under his belt as winner of the Kenny Wheeler Music Prize and the Peter Whittingham Award, Fowler is here with a band that includes highly influential saxophonist Stan Sulzmann, the alert and inventive vibes player Jim Hart, and even features a rare appearance by cult US trumpeter Tom Harrell, a big hero of Fowler’s, as well as many up-and-coming student contemporaries of the young trumpeter’s. Recorded in January at Angel studios in north London Fowler composed and arranged much of the music on Between Shadows as well as playing trumpet and flugelhorn. A new landmark in big band jazz it’s easy to state with some confidence Fowler’s rekindling of the flame of Gil Evans and Kenny Wheeler is utterly convincing, but that’s not the whole story here by any means. The inclusion of a Richard Turner composition, ‘Too Minor’, is a reminder of the much missed Round Trip trumpeter, and the nuanced reading of ‘A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square’ as well as the pleasurably unfussy arrangements throughout show just how in sync with the classic jazz tradition Fowler’s approach is. Yet somehow, and that’s a clue to its success, Between Shadows is never stuck in the past but embraces the present with gusto. Stephen Graham

Released on 1 July. The album is launched at the Forge in London on 25 July. Tickets: