Turning Point

Artist: Chris Flaherty

Date of Release: 08/06/2012

Catalogue no: 2090

Label: Jazz Kat Records

Price: £10

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Track Listing







Trane Spotting








Parallel Motion




Turning Point




Let It Simmer




Song For Dawn




Dance of The Sardines




Trippin' Off Bird




Rise of The Fofanon




McCloud 9




New Perspective






Appearances by

Dennis Rollins, Rod Mason




24/09/2012 Adrian Ingram (Jazz Guitarist/Writer/historian)

It’s always refreshing to hear a young musician keeping the classic jazz guitar tradition alive, but Chris is more than an accomplished jazz guitarist; he is a fully rounded creative musician, as evidenced by his compositions and skilful arranging. All of these attributes, and more, can be found on his 11 track CD “Turning Point”.

It takes a brave man, in these times of stringent cost-cutting and rapid demise of jazz venues to put together a band of any more than four players! But Chris has surrounded himself with top notch musicians like Rod Mason (Saxes), Dennis Rollins (Trombones) and Al Macsween (Keys). Further evidence of Flaherty’s stature can be found in the fact that not only did he contribute some great guitar, but also takes charge of the bass and drum chairs!

Primarily mid-tempo, the music ranges from the relaxed “Mosaic” featuring a nice guitar solo, to the cooking opener “Trane Spotting”. The L.A styled (Bob James, Dave Grusin et al) “Parallel Motion” has the expected funk back beat, some fine ‘side-slipping’ guitar and really tasty ensemble passages. My personal favourite is “Trippin’ off Bird”; snatches of Donna Lee and Confirmation but no direct plagiarism. This is a tour-de-force in the 50’s west coast style of Shorty Rogers, Gerry Mulligan and Shelly Manne’s larger ensembles. Check out too the angular intro to “Let it Simmer” for evidence of Flaherty’s obvious compositional talents.

Make no doubt; this is a fine CD from a very talented musician.


15/10/0112 Bruce Lindsay - All About Jazz

The city of Leeds, in the northern county of West Yorkshire, has developed a reputation in recent years as one of the UK's hotbeds of contemporary jazz and improvised music. But Yorkshire jazz isn't just about being cutting edge or pushing envelopes: there's also a strong affinity with the music's history and traditions; an affinity that values The Great American Songbook, the craft of the ballad and the sheer joyous thrill of a mainstream big band in full flight.

Turning Point, the debut album by the Chris Flaherty Big Band, is a joyous example of this acknowledgement of past glories and, in the original tunes of leader/multi-instrumentalist Flaherty, a fine showcase for new music in that tradition.

Flaherty lives in Halifax, an industrial town a few miles away from Leeds, where he runs the Halifax Guitar School. He is a solid, unfussy drummer and bassist but he excels on guitar. His clear, bright, tone ensures that his single note playing cuts through the ensemble's sound while his rhythm playing is always beautifully judged and sympathetic to the lead players' contributions. He's long held an ambition to front a big band and has grabbed his opportunity in fine style.

There is a little artistic license in Flaherty's use of the term "Big Band," as there are only six players on this album—Al MacSween and Aron Kyne share the piano duties, while Flaherty plays all of the guitar, bass and drum parts. Whatever the reason for the lack of players— logistics, perhaps, economics almost certainly—it's to Flaherty's credit as composer, arranger, producer and engineer that the band sounds like a big band. From the laidback, seemingly effortless beauty of "Mosaic" and "Parallel Motion" to the up- tempo swing of "Let It Simmer" and the tough, driving, "Trane Spotting," Flaherty and his band mates craft some stylish music which, through judicious use of overdubbing, has a full, rich texture.

Trombonist Dennis Rollins, leader of the Velocity Trio, is probably the band's highest-profile member, but each player makes his own vital contribution. Greg Nichols and Rod Mason shine on the soulful funk of "Dance Of The Sardines," Mason and Rollins trade full-blooded solos on "McCloud 9." Flaherty is particularly impressive on "Let It Simmer"—as a guitarist, bassist and drummer—and the bebop "Trippin' Off Bird," which also features Kyne's punchy piano solo. The band's ensemble playing is equally strong: a special mention must go to the overall sound of the smooth, '60s big band style of "Song For Dawn."

Turning Point has clearly been a labour of love for Flaherty, so it's great to report that the labour was successful. This is a bouncy, bubbly big band sound, even if it does come from just half a dozen players—great on record, it deserves to be heard live.


06/07/0112 Geoff Amos

Turning Point is an excellent debut by band leader Chris Flaherty. The compositions and arrangements are bright, sophisticated and at times, downright sassy.

The ensemble playing is faultless, this is certainly a CD that merits repeated playing and I’m sure that hearing the band in a ‘live’ setting will be even better


07/09/0012 Ian Mann

The album commences with the convincingly authentic big band sounds of the cheekily titled “Trane Spotting”. As Flaherty has noted there are comparatively few opportunities for guitarists within the ranks of conventional big bands hence his decision to form his own! Flaherty the guitarist finds plenty of room to express himself here and elsewhere and his work on bass and drums is also functional and wholly adequate. Besides the leader the rousing opener also features strong solo statements from Nicholas and Mason.

“Mosaic” has a warmer,gentler feel with Flaherty’s elegant Pat Metheny like guitar lines backed by tasteful but sumptuous horns. His own bass and drums are perfectly attuned to his guitar, Flaherty also teaches bass at his music school and on this evidence is also a highly competent drummer.

The Metheny like tone remains for the following “Parallel Motion” which also introduces a touch of funk. With its punchy but lyrical horn charts the piece has a distinctly urban feel that frames solos from Flaherty on guitar and Nicholas on flugelhorn. The title track offers a similar blend of mellifluousness and groove with Flaherty sharing the solo honours with the always excellent Dennis Rollins.

“Let It Simmer” bubbles along pleasingly with clipped funk grooves and punchy horn charts. The larger than life figure of Rod “The Room Darkener” Mason impresses alongside Flaherty in the solo exchanges.

“Song For Dawn” offers lush horn arrangements alongside Flaherty’s warm, syrupy guitar lines and Rollins’ rounded, velvet toned trombone. The quirky but funky “Dance of The Sardines” features Mason on flute alongside the leader’s cool but agile guitar. Nicholas and Mason, the latter now back on saxophone vie for excellence on back to back horn solos. It’s infectious, enjoyable stuff.

Having paid tribute to John Coltrane on the opener Flaherty now turns his attention to Charlie Parker with the boppish “Trippin’ off Bird” which features his own slippery bebop guitar lines and the first piano solo of the album from Aron Kyne. Hitherto the instrument has been deployed for its rhythmic and harmonic capabilities.
“Rise of The Fofanon” embodies similar boppish virtues with Flaherty, the punchy Mason, and MacSween at the piano the featured soloists. In his rhythmic capacity Flaherty maintains a propulsive groove behind the soloists and even enjoys the occasional drum break.

“McCloud 9” is unpretentiously funky with some rousing unison horn passages and typically elegant guitar soloing. Mason and Rollins add joyous but incisive solos on sax and trombone and there’s some great section playing too.

The album ends on an upbeat note with “New Perspective” which surges along on the back of solos from Flaherty, Mason and Rollins.

“Turning Point” isn’t a big band album in the conventional sense and it may not be to the liking of dyed in the wool big band aficionados. However there is much to enjoy about the record, Flaherty’s compositions are both melodic and grooving combining Pat Metheny’s melodic sense with the grooves of funk, fusion and nu jazz. With its numerous overdubs the album is clearly a labour of love, particularly so for Flaherty who occupies the roles of composer, guitarist, bassist, drummer, engineer and producer. Everybody plays well and in Mason and Rollins Flaherty has chosen players with national reputations.

The album has been well received and Flaherty hopes to put together a band, probably a seven piece featuring the core quintet plus bass and drums, to play the music live. Hope he succeeds. “Turning Point” may not pull up any trees but its an enjoyable, accessible and well crafted album that deserves to enhance Flaherty’s reputation as a musician and composer. If you live in the North of England he’s a musician that should be well worth checking out whatever context he might be appearing in.


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