Matt Carter Octet: Read Between the Lines review – an auspicious debut

The young British pianist and friends beguile with a swinging mix of catchy Carter originals and covers spanning Count Basie to English folk

For those who like their jazz upbeat and straight-ahead comes this entertaining first studio album from a young British pianist and composer. Matt Carter was still studying at the Royal Academy of Music in London when he began putting together its band members and music, while also backing singers such as Joss Stone and Mica Paris. Though he’s no purist, Carter’s heart clearly lies with purring big bands. His octet (all young) comes with a five-strong brass section, augmented by the guest flute of relative veteran Gareth Lockrane on three cuts.

Among the cover versions is the luscious Girl Talk by Neal Hefti, Count Basie’s arranger, who also composed the Batman theme, while a couple of originals here, Abode and Fighting Talk, sound like theme tunes in search of an action TV series. Another great band leader, Duke Ellington, gets a more ruminative tribute on Carter’s Duke’s Mood, with a blousy trombone solo from Harry Maund. They Can’t Take That Away from Me is arguably an over-covered item from the Great American Songbook, but Carter’s solo swings delightfully, as does the brass arrangement. More unlikely is a version of the folk tune High Germany, here hauled unceremoniously into the clattering modern age. An auspicious debut.

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