Album: Tom Richards Orchestra, Smoke and Mirrors (Candid)

The big bands might not be coming back but the form won’t go away. This incredibly assured debut from composer/arranger/saxophonist Richards and a 20-piece aggregation of young, often Royal Academy-trained players with Gwilym Simcock on piano, adopts a Maria Schneider or Vince Mendoza method with more sighs and whispers than rasps and growls. It’s at its best on the opening track "Dropping Pennies", with a show-stopping duo for Simcock and vibes-man Jim Hart heard between ticking rhythms and subtle reeds and brass harmonies. This is truly thrilling stuff.

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