If you are a jazz fan, you need to listen to songs that are just straight jam sessions. Who'd Have Guest, by The Elliott Henshaw Band will satisfy that itch for 2021. It all starts with drummer Elliott Henshaw, but add some of the busiest musicians on the UK scene, and you get an album that will end up in your regular playlist.
“Being heavily influenced by the likes of Dave Grusin, The Yellowjackets, Al Jarreau and David Sanborn”, explains Elliott, “I wanted to release music that celebrates the importance of strong melody combined with solid groove. Every member of the band is encouraged to stretch out and be creative within these parameters. ‘Who’d Have Guest’ features original compositions that showcase horn sections, string sections and, as the album title suggests, some very special guests. It has been 10 years in the making due to everyone’s work schedules but for me it has been worth the wait. Producing an album that allowed me to make music not only with my friends, but my heroes as well has been a joy from start to finish.”
Elliott continues, “The idea behind this project was to take my existing 5-piece band and include different guest appearances on each track. The guests vary from a horn section featuring the likes of Tom Walsh, Simon Niblock and Chris Traves, vocalists such as Miranda Wilford and Noel Sullivan, or jazz heavyweights such as Gwilym Simcock, Bob Mintzer and Dave Weckl. I wanted to celebrate music and musicians that have inspired me over the years whilst at the same time document where I am creatively at this point in my life.”
First off, let's just say that the recording quality is better than most.
This is an 11 track set, and it clocks in at just over an hour.
Review - 'Who’d Have Guest?' by The Elliott Henshaw Band
The set leads off with Tea and Toast. The song fades in with the funky drums. You really get the feel of an introduction as the guitar eases in. You then get the sax play, then Boom! the hook unleashes the horns and we are officially in full groove. There are several changes throughout the song to keep you guessing. The guitar solo midway through caps off the song.
The Direct Input intro gives us some 70's action TV show vibes. The energy is sustained throughout, and all of the instruments get their chance to shine, including the keys, the trumpet, and the guitar. Henshaw's drum solo toward the end should be a blueprint for every up and coming drummer out there.
Along Came Milly is next. They slow down the pace a little, and quite frankly we need the change of pace after the first two tracks. The horn takes the lead, but the strings underneath fatten up the sound. You add a piano solo to the mix, and you get a track that you will need to play a couple of times to really hear all of the tight instrumentation.
The funk is turnt up with Monte Carlo. Miranda Wilford supplies the vocals, and we dig the rap in addition to the slick singing chops. The horns fill in underneath the vocals, and this is a track that will sound 100 times better when it is performed live. In the meantime, we will STILL enjoy the recording.
In JP, the mood is light to start, so enjoy the intro. The song then picks up and you then get a supper club vibe, and you will find yourself taping along with the beat. The keys and the drums do their thing, then the slows down again as the song fades out.
The song Hiding To Nothing needs its own genre. Let's call it deliberate funk. You also get a Blues feel with the drums and the guitar play. This song is nine and a half minutes of pure bliss.
Big horn sound is what we get with Faithless. This is a vocal track with Noel Sullivan adding his voice to the mix. We especially like the guitar play, and the song sounds like everyone had a really good time in the recording session.
You Are is next. At three and a half minutes long, it is the shortest song on the album, and with the slow groove, it seems more like an interlude. The track is nice change of pace, as it adds to the variety of the album.
Trying Too Hard is a snappy tune, and you will understand what we mean as you listen to the track. The drum play is really tight, and the sax is there to ride along with the beat. They move on with a little rock guitar vibe, and we all all for it! This is an eight minute song, so buckle up and enjoy the ride, as all of the musicians eventually get their turn to shine.
In Red Beret, the slower funk is back. The precision of the instrumentation here is off the charts, and the various changes in the song are really pleasing to the ear. The strings sound great, and we even get a bass solo, which adds to the depth of the song.
The set concludes with Scotty The Brave. Henshaw once again shows off his drum prowess, and the other musicians do their thing, and the end result comes together to offer a fitting conclusion to the album. Musically, there are a few twists and turns that make the listener pay attention throughout.
Who'd Have Guest is a fun ride, especially if you like extended jam sessions. Several of the songs are longer than five minutes, and it is evident that the musicians are enjoying themselves during the recording sessions. The entire album is a fun time, and you will be able to stream all of the songs starting August 27th.