Tom Syson ‘Different Coloured Days’ CD (Self-released) 5/5

“Different Coloured Days” is trumpeter/composer Tom Syson’s second release as bandleader, following up on his acclaimed 2017 debut “Green”. The eight original compositions are performed with style and finesse by Syson, along with Tom Barford on saxophone, David Ferris on piano, Pete Hutchison on bass and Jonathan Silk on drums. This quintet of musicians gel so well together and on this recording have produced some of the finest contemporary jazz I’ve heard this year. There’s also an old-school feel to the album which I really like. It’s the kind of music that makes me think I’ve just walked into a very cool jazz club, with the band performing at the top of their game.

Syson has matured through time spent with Birmingham Jazz Orchestra where he holds the trumpet chair, NYJO, European Radio Jazz Orchestra, London Jazz Orchestra and Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Orchestra. Listening to his music on this session, I can’t help think that the big bands and larger group ensembles he has worked with have played a major part in developing his writing style. At times it’s like listening to a larger ensemble rather than just a quintet of musicians. And that’s no bad thing at all. In fact, the wonderful synergy that the band obviously enjoy is only enhanced by that big band ethos, all making for a very full and rewarding sound.

The front-line of Syson and saxophonist Barford work exceptionally well together, each complimenting one another throughout the whole album. And there has to be a special mention for the rhythm section here, with Ferris, Hutchinson and Silk not only holding things down with a noticeable, unerring quality but also adding something special to the nature of the music being made. Some of the changes in pace and mood are handled so well that you would think this quintet had been performing together for twenty years or more.

The album begins with “At Peace”, a clear statement of intent as the solo trumpet leads the listener into this fine tune with conviction and confidence. “Distraction” is anything but, with the deep jazz groove of the bass holding my attention as the tune develops into a gorgeous melody with some sumptuous soloing. “Near Death on the A90” presumably has a tale to tell judging by the track’s title. This shorter exploratory piece is followed by the excellent “Soon”. Reminding me of a Blue Note era Wayne Shorter piece, I love the feel and sublime nature of the tune, being both thoughtful and uplifting. Syson’s writing continues to delight on “Purple”, with its Tony Williams’ Lifetime vibe drawing the listener in. A feature of the band leader’s compositions is his delicious chord changes. The solos flow effortlessly over the wonderfully crafted music. The ethereal and slightly anthemic “Relief” has the pull and intelligence of a Mark Guilliana Quartet tune; stunningly exquisite writing, beautifully performed. And there’s no let-up to the brilliance with “A Leisurely Walk is a Luxury” featuring some of the finest soloing from both Barford and Ferris. The album closes with Syson’s simply gorgeous trumpet on “Soon Reprise”, bringing to mind the late, great trumpeter Kenny Wheeler.

There’s nothing remotely tedious or forced about Syson’s music. He seems to be able to capture an elusive and emotive energy that propels this album well beyond your average contemporary jazz offering. It moves me, it excites me and it captivates me. “Different Coloured Days” is an album I’ll be listening to for a long time to come.

Mike Gates

Read also: Tom Syson Sextet ‘Green’ (Self-released) 5/5

Tour dates
12 May SOUTHAMPTON Modern Jazz Mango Basement-Ocean Village, 5 Canute Rd. SO14
13 May MANCHESTER – Whiskey Jar (NQ Jazz), 14 Tariff St, Manchester M1 2FF
14 May BIRMINGHAM, Spotted Dog, 104 Warwick Street, Birmingham, B12 0NH
15 May LONDON – Vortex Jazz Club 11 Gillett Square, London, N16 8AZ **ALBUM LAUNCH**
17 May BRADFORD -JATP Jazz, Glyde House, Glydegate, Little Horton Road, BD5 0AD
18 May GLASGOW – Blue Arrow Jazz Club, 323 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow G2 3HW
5 June SHEFFIELD – The Lescar, Sharrowvale Road, Sheffield, S11 8ZF