Tristan Banks: View From Above

Rating: ★★★

Record and Artist Details


John Crawford (p)
Paul Booth (ts, ss, fl)
Tristan Banks (d)
Davide Mantovani (b)




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Rec. 2022

For three decades, the British session drummer Tristan Banks has been a first-call sideman for a ‘glitterati’ across jazz, pop and soul music, while in the past year confirming his deep jazz roots by finding time to creatively manage Brighton's popular Verdict club. Now Ubuntu Records boss Martin Hummel, an admirer of both Banks’ versatility and his jazz soul, has offered him his belated leadership debut, with long-time musical sidekicks including multi-sax virtuoso Paul Booth – an eloquent regular with Steve Winwood, Incognito, and many others.

The agenda of View From Above emerges from the opening title track, with its coolly soulful deep-horn melody over Banks’ busy drumming and John Crawford's pumping chordal piano repeat, and fondness for groove-swapping contrasts that reappear in changing guises all over the set. ‘Ex Machina’ spins off a catchily Crusaders-like jazz-funk hook (with Booth's Michael Breckerish tenor seesawing through a mix of staccato honks and freewheeling long lines) while the wistful ‘Possible Bossa’, the Latin-flute features ‘Capelinha’ and ‘Cidade Alta’, and the tumultuous, fitfully salsa-driven finale ‘Tempesta’ emphasise how crucially Banks’ sparky leadership debut depends on his reeds frontman's versatility.

Maybe there aren't too many resolutions in this somewhat generic music that you don't hear coming, and the repetition of hooks and ostinatos sometimes seem to interrupt ensemble flows that might have been left longer to run – but this is a band of craftsmen playing the forms of acoustic jazz they relish, and their pleasure in that is infectiously palpable.

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