Brass Act: The London Horns live

IN the world of Jazz Top Trumps – where every famous collaborator would earn a high-scoring card – the London Horns would have a formidable hand.

The group’s frontline brass trio have been seen on stage with the likes of Phil Collins, Quincy Jones, the Brand New Heavies, the James Taylor Quartet, and son-of-Clint, Kyle Eastwood.

And to complete a formidable CV, they recently knocked off a world tour with pop princess Kylie Minogue.

So the purpose of this not-so-inventively-titled outfit is for the polished session pros to let their hair down, and play what they want for a change – which, it seems, is a thick stew of classy jazz-funk.

Deep and dirty, head-nodding grooves underpinned the horns’ three-pronged attack, the lengthy vamps leaving plenty of space for the brass to stretch out with searing, soaring solos.

Trumpeter Graeme Flowers stole the show with his brash, showy style, echoes of Lee Morgan in his bright sparkly tone. Elsewhere saxophonist Graeme Blevins produced some intoxicating spiralled lines, while new-recruit Nichol Thomson cheekily exploited the sonic range of his trombone with daring dives from high to low register.

Showcasing tunes from their debut LP Don’t Look Down, electric bassist Andrew McKinney laid the funk down thick and fast, while airtight sticksman Dave De Rose played with control and flair.

Six-stringer Mike Outram provided some much-welcomed harmony – where percussive twangs would surface, he served up spicy jazz chords. Meanwhile his solo work was stratospheric; restrained bluesy licks building to fiery fusion runs that recalled the legendary Pat Metheny, each improvisation ending in a firework display of squealing string-bends.

Forget the London Horns’ lofty accomplices, its time this brass act made a name all of their own.

Review of The London Horns live at Hideaway, SW16 2ED, on Feburary 5, 2011

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