Lou Beckerman reviews Heart of Oak by Terry Pack’s Trees.
An ‘unfeasibly large ensemble ’ delivers a most feasibly fine album.
Terry Pack’s Trees
Heart of Oak
I can recall Trees as a freshly-planted seedling concept. It swiftly found fertile ground for robust growth in the musicianship, dedication, diversity and generous – spirited involvement of numerous talented musicians (up to forty) here along the South Coast.
Heart of Oak is the first album from this warm, inspiring and superbly evolving collective. I initially took it for an in-car test drive before some intense listening at home. First overall impression: a rich, sumptuous and exciting layering of textures and compelling grooves. The opening section of the first track, The Long Man, could be part of a classical overture and there is a genre – defying doggedness about this eclectic collection of contemporary tracks. Incorporated is a mosaic of elements: rock through to tango. The tag on their website is ‘jazz’, with the overall orchestral makeup comprising jazz musicians, as the showcasing of several phenomenal improvised solos testifies.
The album evokes landscape, taking us on a journey – sometimes contemplative and atmospheric; sometimes fun; often stirring – with each track having its own musical and emotional momentum. Most of the music has been composed and arranged by Terry Pack and Hilary Burt, with the exception of Pack’s expressive re-working of the traditional Scarborough Fair with added material by Mark Edwards. Other band members have also made significant compositional contributions. There are some wide-ranging clear-cut vocals adding instrumental colours which I enjoy. A particular hats off from me for the gorgeous and sensitive use of percussion throughout.
Often ignored in reviews is the care given to design and presentation of a CD. The physical album comprises an audio CD and DVD – a splendid live film of the album being recorded (though I was secretly hoping for some moments of the band in relaxation mode!) with gorgeous artwork by Lee Roussel. Do read the beautifully written and typically descriptive foreword by bassist Eddie Myer which puts into context and brings alive the much-loved local geographical setting for these compositions. There is a comprehensive list of band members and the featured soloists together with full-of-interest notes about each track, and the lyrics (by Imogen Ryall) are there to read.
Congratulations to the Keeper of the Forest, Terry Pack, and to each and every section of the orchestra and soloists who shine with innovation.
Release date: June 2017.
Both the digital album (£10) and physical album with bonus DVD (£12) are available from www.treesensemble.org and very soon from Amazon and iTunes.
And of course at their gigs.
Go see and hear!