Expatriate New Zealand jazz pianist Alan Broadbent’s latest offering is an epic orchestral jazz album featuring his longtime trio compatriots Harvie S on bass and Peter Erskine on drums and percussion, along with the London Metropolitan Orchestra (LMO).
Recorded in 2015 at the iconic Abbey Road Studios by BAFTA awarded sound engineer Jonathan Allan and produced by Grammy award-winner Ralf Kemper, ‘Developing Story’ consists of the title suite by Broadbent for piano trio and orchestra, and six other works arranged for trio and orchestra.
These range from standards such as John Coltrane’s Naima to Broadbent’s own compositions, including one, Children of Lima, that he wrote for the Woody Herman band and Houston Symphony Orchestra during his tenure as their pianist and arranger in the early 1970s.
It’s easy to hear why the LA Times called him ‘one of the greatest living jazz pianists’. Broadbent’s own compositions are quite sweeping and rhapsodic and work very naturally with the setting of an orchestra.
His many years working as an arranger and conductor for other artists (such as Diana Krall), have proven that he is an excellent and sensitive arranger of jazz in an orchestral setting.
His arrangements bring out every possible bit of jazziness in an orchestra, without forcing the players into rhythms they are not comfortable with.
The LMO – an incredibly versatile orchestra who play in the widest variety of contexts – swings and soars in response to, and along with, the trio throughout this album.
Although not quite an extension of the trio, there is never a jarring moment between the small group jazz and the symphonic jazz.
Last, but not least, Peter Erskine and Harvie S, what can I add about these two luminary jazz musicians that hasn’t already been said by far better jazz writers? Their talents as side musicians are exemplary and weave effortlessly in and out of the orchestral arrangements, blending seamlessly, to the point of near invisibility at times.
This album has a broad appeal for jazz fans, casual jazz listeners and any fans of orchestral music.