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Seesaw by Christian Brewer

Christian Brewer Quintet
SEESAW
Christian Brewer (saxophone), Leon Greening (piano), Jim Hart (vibraphone), Phil Donkin (bass), Tristan Maillot (drums)

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MORE REVIEWS

21/07/2006 Jack Massarick, Evening Standard
JAZZ CD OF THE WEEK Christian Brewer Quintet Seesaw 4 ****stars

" Altoist Brewer and his precocious colleagues, pianist Leon Greening and vibist Jim Hart, deliver a joyful brand of British neo-bop that swings with power, fluency and confidence".

01/07/2006 Duncan Heining, Jazzwise, July 2006
Christian Brewer Quintet SEESAW 3 stars***

"This is a fine album that promises much for the future"

21/05/2006 Chris Parker, Vortex website
"Overall, an assured, consistently entertaining album from one of the UK’s most exciting composer/leaders".

Release Date 12th June 2006
Title “Seesaw”
Artist Christian Brewer
Catalogue Number SRCD 16-2
Barcode 832929001628
UK Distribution Proper Music www.proper.uk.com

Tracks are

1. Thanks but No Thanks (Christian Brewer/Leon Greening) (5:33)
2. Singapore (Christian Brewer/Leon Greening) (7:16)
3. In a Hurry Christian Brewer) (7:46)
4. Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love (Mingus) (8:16)
5. So You Said (Jim Hart) (7:46)
6. Step Backwards (Christian Brewer) (9:14)
7. Let's Cool One (Thelonious Monk) (6:08)
8. Seesaw (Christian Brewer) (11:43)
TOTAL TIME 63:48

Christian Brewer – saxophone
‘One of the most exciting alto players I’ve heard in a long time….’ Tony Hall
‘Phenomenal’ Dave Gelly
‘Brewer is an excellent player … and composer’ Ian Carr

Christian is one of the most lyrical and soulful alto players to have emerged from the UK in recent years. Loved for his melodic playing and pure tone, he has risen to prominence on the British jazz scene. He is now a regular at London’s prestigious Ronnie Scotts and both he and his band are in great demand.

His musical roots besides jazz also include funk and groove orientated music. This has lead to commercial work with reggae trombonist Rico Rodriguez, Push, Paul Weller, Otis Grand and the Ragga Twins amongst many others. This diversity has enriched his musical outlook and is evident in his style of playing and composing, whilst never compromising the authenticity of the jazz.

Christian studied at Leeds and The Guildhall School of Music. However, the defining musical inspiration came from playing alongside Julian Joseph and the Mondesir brothers at Ian Carr’s jazz London fusion orchestra.
He has gone on to play with some of the finest players in Europe: Chano Dominguez (premier Spanish jazz flamenco pianist who is taking Europe by storm), Jason Rebello, Geoff Gascoine, Dave Schnitter, Carl Orr, Damon Brown, Antonio Ciacca. He has performed in Europe’s top clubs and festivals. With pianist Chano Dominguez and bass player Francisco Bose, he played in most of Spain’s international festivals (1989 ­ 91) including Seville, Malaga, Granada, Huelva, Jaen and Ceuta (North Africa). The group they formed, ‘Decoy’, also performed in Café Central in Madrid and recorded for television (Jazz Entre Amigos) and radio. In Spain he also collaborated with tenor saxophonists Dave Schnitter (ex Art Blakey), Jorge Pardo (Paco de Lucia) and Antonio Mesa; and played extensively with guitarist Tito Alcodo.

In the UK Christian has worked predominantly with trumpet player Damon Brown, touring England, Scotland and Italy. He has featured on two of Damon’s CDs (see below) and performed at Barcelona’s Jamboree. With top bass player Geoff Gascoine’s sextet he played extensively and has worked alongside the cream of the jazz scene such as Winston Clifford, Sebastian de Krom, Carl Orr, Jim Mullen and John Donaldson.

Since 2000 he has been leading his own group featuring the superb Leon Greening, Tom Herbert and Sebastian Rochford. His debut CD has won much critical acclaim, both at home and abroad. In 2003 the group performed at the Barcelona Masimas Jazz festival in August, toured the UK and successfully completed their third week at Ronnie Scotts in two years. In November 2003 Christian was invited to play in Macau Jazz Festival (Hong Kong) with Portuguese pianist Antonio Cabritta. This lead to an extensive 3 week tour of portugal in 2004 (alongside english trumpeter Quenton Collins) finishing in the prestigious Hot Club of Lisbon. Christian formed his quintet featuring the multi talented Jim Hart on vibes, Tristan Mailliot on drums, Phil Donkin on bass and Leon Greening on piano. The group played 2 weeks at Ronnie Scotts during the year and recorded a live CD there, which is due out on the house label. The group toured the UK during 2005; played at Swanage, Scarborough, Villa Real and Lisbon international jazz festivals.

Both of Christian's CDs have won acclaim in Europe. In the International Jazz Competition of Granada (Spain) his previous CD (Introducing Christian Brewer) came second in the competition in 2004, and during 2005,the group occupied the runner-up spot again with a special mention.

Leon Greening – piano
Leon studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and then at Leeds College of Music, where he received a BA (Hons) in Jazz and Contemporary Music. He was runner up in the Young Jazz Musician of the Year in 1999 and has performed with many leading jazz artists including Pete King, Spike Robinson, Jim Millen, Clark Tracey, Steve Brown, Dave Green, Dave Cliff, Guy Barker, Matt Waites, Damon Brown, Christian Brewer, Alex Garnett and Anita Wardell. Leon is also an experienced teacher, composer and bandleader and has released a CD with his own trio featuring Sam Burgess on bass and Steve Brown on drums.

Jim Hart – vibraphone
‘He’s a regular blooming genius, if you ask me,’ (Martin Drew)

Multitalented vibist, drummer and pianist, Jim Hart, began playing before at the age of four. Coming from a musical family in Cornwall, he went on to study at Chetham’s School in Manchester, the Royal Northern College of Music and then at the London Guildhall. Jim was a key member of NYJO and has since played with the likes of Gareth Lockrane, Jim Watson, Mike Gorman, Mornington Lockett, Gwilym Simcock, Martin Drew, Steve Melling, Ivo Neame, Richard Price and Tom Skinner and is a member of the New Jazz Couriers.

Phil Donkin - bass
Phil Donkin was born in Sunderland in November 1980. He took up the electric bass at 12, playing in loud Rock bands until moving to London in 1998, having previously developed an interest in jazz. He studied at the prestigous Guildhall School of Music and Drama from '99 - '03, taking up the double bass at the beginning of this course in '99, studying under classical bassist, LSO principal Colin Paris. At the same time, Phil was playing a lot of jazz and developing a great interest in bassists such as Charles Mingus, Dave Holland and Larry Gales to name but a few. He became very interested in the rhythmic concepts introduced by the Miles Davis Quintet from '63-'69 and later developed by the bands of Dave Holland, Branford Marsalis, Steve Coleman etc. He has also been influenced by freer concepts such as that of Albert Ayler, Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor.
Since 2002, Phil has been very busy on the London and UK scene, working with British jazz legends Stan Sulzmann, Bobby Wellins, Jim Mullen, Martin Drew, Phil Lee, Julian Arguelles, Martin France, Julian Joseph, Mark Mondesir, Steve Williamson, Tim Garland, Nikki Illes, Tina May, Phil Robson, Julian Siegel, Paul Clarvis, Hans Koller, amongst others. He has also worked with internationally known artists such as Mike Gibbs, Kirk Lightsey, and Jeff Williams.

Phil has studied privately, and institutionally with Dave Liebman, Barry Harris, Rufus Ried, Billy Cobham, John Pattitucci, Dave Friesen, Geoff Keezer, Drew Gress, Ari Hoenig, and Christian McBride. He is a member of Gwilym Simcock’s various bands and is embarking on a new project with Gerard Presencer

Tristan Mailliot – drums
Tristan studied classical percussion, drums and piano at Dartington College of Music and the Royal Academy of Music. He has performed with leading UK and international artists including Art Farmer, Jim Hall, Bobby Shew, Scott Hamilton, Claire Martin, Peter King, Stan Tracy, Tina May, BBC Concert Orchestra, Dave Newton, Norma Winstone, Jim Mullen and Bobby Wellins and has toured extensively in the USA with “Acoustic Alchemy”. He has taught at Trinity College of Music, Drumtech, Musician’s Institute and the Midland Arts Centre and has taught on schools projects for Jazz FM Northwest. Tristan currently performs regularly with the Tina May Quartet, Kate Williams Trio and the John Critchinson Quartet.

REVIEWS

21/07/2006 Jack Massarik, Evening Standard
JAZZ CD OF THE WEEK Christian Brewer Quintet Seesaw 4 ****stars

It was no surprise when veteran Alan Barnes collected his second Best Instrumentalist gong at last week’s predominantly conservative BBC Jazz Awards, but younger and hipper players are lurking in the wings. Altoist Brewer and his precocious colleagues, pianist Leon Greening and vibist Jim Hart, deliver a joyful brand of British neo-bop that swings with power, fluency and confidence.

Bassist Phil Donkin and drummer Tristan Maillot are a cohesive rhythm team and Brewer’s melodic development of six originals and a couple of standards by Mingus and Monk is consistently pleasing.


01/07/2006 Pete Martin, Jazz UK, July/ August 20
This excellent British group toured the UK extensively in May and June, and although Seesaw – Brewer’s third CD – was recorded earlier, a feeling of togetherness and interaction amongst the musicians is already evident. Brewer’s alto sound is light – though he can dig in when needed – and he is a remarkably fluent and craftsmanlike improviser. Though fresh ideas flow inexorably, Brewer is not tempted to waste notes despite his fluency, so that there’s a real sense of purpose about his work. In all this he is partnered expertly by pianist Leon Greening (who co-wrote three of the eight tracks) bassist Phil Donkin, Drummer Tristan Maillot, and on vibes Jim Hart, whose presence adds immensely to the colour and vitality of the music.

Altoist Brewer is one of those players who has learnt from experience where his strengths lie but is still willing to push the envelope. A Phil Woods-like accuracy on fast tracks such as ‘Thanks But No Thanks’ and ‘In A Hurry’ combines with a soul searching Art Pepper quality to his ballad playing on Mingus’ ‘Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love’ and the lovely ‘Singapore’, and the two rhythm sections – Mick Coady features on bass on ‘Sound of Love’ and Monk’s ‘Let’s Cool One’ – serve this music beautifully. Mailliot is totally on the money and Phil Donkin has power and imagination in equal measure. As for Jim Hart, the Vibist is one of those rare finds, a real one to watch. His solos are rich in melody and creativity, while the way he combines with Greening and Brewer is masterly. But the acid test with music like this lies in how the player’s work together, how far the music becomes more than just its parts. This is an excellent band that plays with commitment to one another and that gives these eight tunes elements of surprise and excitement that keep you coming back. This is a fine album that promises much for the future.


21/05/2006 Chris Parker, Vortex website

Although justly celebrated as a wholly dependable and versatile sideman, adept at producing funk- and groove-oriented music, not to mention reggae, Christian Brewer is, as this wholly jazz-based album proves, also a superb bandleader, his quintet (pianist Leon Greening, vibes player Jim Hart, bassist Phil Donkin and drummer Tristan Mailliot) producing a particularly powerful brand of post-bop. Six of the eight tracks here are in-band originals, the other two being Monk’s ‘Let’s Cool One’ (taken at an easy lope, but retaining much of the original’s spiky eccentricity) and Mingus’s ‘Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love’ (an achingly lovely melody well suited to Brewer’s burnished alto tone). The band’s compositions are attractive, punchy and immediately accessible, ranging from the bustling Brewer/Greening opener ‘Thanks but No Thanks’ to Hart’s dual-paced ‘So You Said’, but whatever tempo they’re operating at, the quintet produce bright, vigorous but skilfully nuanced music, Hart’s vibes in particular combining with the leader’s alternately glowing and driving alto to impart an attractive textural variety to the album’s overall sound. Greening, too, is a sparkling, robust soloist, his lengthy lines imbuing the music with enjoyable tension; the rhythm section is sparky, propulsive yet dynamically controlled throughout. Overall, an assured, consistently entertaining album from one of the UK’s most exciting composer/leaders.

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