Here's some captivating music, arranged, crafted - and mostly composed - by the exquisite and finely honed pen and ear of Nigel Waddington. Where Has He Been? With a line up of luminaries from the British music scene - jazz and otherwise - the ensemble playing and soloing are expectedly exemplary. And as hoped for, there's that magical blend, natural and seemingly effortless, that comes with music and players being in compatible territory, and having a ball - the music playing itself. This is a kaleidoscopic collection of contemporary jazz - hard swing, earthy and soulful vocal and instrumental ballads, funky rhythms, excursions into the classical, that'll beguile, cajole and engage you. Several times, it caught me saying "Hey! come again - what was that?" Too late though, its moving on to more ear-catching goodies - you gotta keep up!
Mike Gibbs, Composer
Captivating new big band recording...appealingly varied repertoire...Vince Mendoza-like charts such as the beautifully melodic title track Bigger Pictures. Despite the diversity, everything coheres and unfolds in an organic and compelling manner. Soloists and singers are woven seamlessly into the undulating fabric of the orchestrations. Claire Martin's metre-bending swing on Like Someone in Love is something only possible of course in the most sympathetic of environments. An outstanding achievement...a masterpiece in its own right.
Mark Gilbert, Jazz Journal
Imaginatively orchestrated...vibrantly performed by some of the best session players around. Waddington's scoring exudes confidence and panache, reshaping tried and tested big band traditions in a more contemporary idiom.
Jazz Journal International
An ambitious, cutting-edge writer with much to say, he merges the jazz, pop and orchestral idioms with ease. I will look forward to more from this guy's pen.
A new look and sound as a complementary experience...I also relished both of Waddington’s pieces, particularly Carnaval de Toledo, with its strong Latin flavor. It also features terrific instrumental solos....Such a vibrant addition to a beloved genre is very welcome.
Henry Fogel, former Manager of the New York Philharmonic, President of the Chicago Symphony, President of the League of American Orchestras
One of Waddington's strengths is as a colourist. I Fly is a case in point. Woodwind statements of fine texture give way to Claire Martin's smoky vocal chorus, the two things very adeptly balanced. The ability to marry intimacy and broader sonorities recurs throughout. The title track features swirling strings, fine reed work and an especially apt solo from guitarist Dave Ital. One of the marks of a good arranger is that one revisits tracks and finds more and more in them; colours, textures, harmonies, patterns. That happens here. Versatility, and the ability to formulate sensitive arrangements, is a gift.
Jonathan Woolf, Musicweb International
Bigger Pictures ranges beautifully across a wide range of orchestral jazz styles with soaring horn and string arrangements and top soloists...uplifting stuff...acres of superb quality that includes a big-band take on Pat Metheny’s James and an idiomatic tribute to Steely Dan featuring Jacqui Hicks. Nigel’s string writing is at its best in a setting for Claire Martin on Nick Homes’s tune I Fly.
UK Jazz Radio
Jazz Chops, No Hang Ups has melody, arrangement and changes that are very, very Fagen/Becker-esque... even John Blackwell gets the tone of his guitar just right... Then there's the key-note title cut. Using reeds, strings, xylophone and harp. Waddington explores John Dankworth's observation about jazz being a language rather than a style, and in attempting such he's achieved a very British sound on the cut... and indeed throughout the album.
Bill Buckley, Soul Jazz and Funk
Nigel's versatility as a writer has enabled him to balance all of the idioms into a single musical product sounding like a forty minute composition, an unbroken journey if you like. The addition of strings and French horns provides a distinctive edge and colour not often found in conventional big band recordings. The use of the strings is resourceful but never too busy or "skinny" to use Johnny Mandel's phrase. After a Journey is clearly tomorrow's news, while staying faithful to the best aspects and innovations of large ensemble jazz throughout the 20th century.
Frank Griffith, Composer, Bandleader
An energetic accumulation of ideas
Richard Whitehouse, Gramophone Magazine
Treats [the pieces] as if they were his own...attractive and slick... a very contemporary sound...you've heard it on television (think Doc Severinsen) and in movies. To me, it seems very Californian...tight and top-notch. If you are a jazz composer or arranger, you couldn't do much better than this ensemble.
Raymond Tuttle, Fanfare Magazine
After a Journey is a fabulous album...an absolute joy to play this CD on the radio.
Mike Chadwick, The Cutting Edge, Jazz FM
© 2019 Nigel Waddington