Reviews

The Horn Player

Dave Lee – “Under The Influence” – by George Muray

Dave Lee, one of London’s top freelance horn players, continues on a very successful career ranging from principal horn of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, soundtracks and pop recordings, London’s West End shows and solo horn of the Nyman Band. He is a musician who refused to be pigeon-holes as classical or otherwise.

This album brings together a group of songs and compositions by composers and friends who have infuenced him over the years from David Bowie and Pink Floyd to Michael Nyman and Peter Maxwell Davies. The album opens with an arrangement by Lee of Pink Floyd’s Shine On You Crazy Diamond from the album Wish You Were Here. Dave effortlessly rises up to a hauntingly beautiful top D which sets the tone for the sheer beauty of his playing throughout the whole album. The Jazz classic Birdland brings together Dave, Paul Gardham and Chris Davies on horn in a funky arrangement by Paul Hart. There are three classic vocal kacks sung by Skye from the band Morcheeba. The First I Ever Saw Your Face, Mack The Kife and Cole. I loved the album Big Calm by Morcheeba and Skye lends her unique voice to these clever arrangements. Lee has arranged a suite of music from Nyman’s film The Ogre for brass and sax. There is a subtle use of a mellophone in the last movement. Lee has also arranged the Psalm from Nyman’s Six Poems of Celan for hom and piano like a classic work for hom and piano. There is some dramatic writing here with more horns added at the end for extra weight.

Tabla e Trompa arranged by Lee is an improvisation featuring a magical horn accompanied on tabla by Sirish Kumar. Blood Count by Billy Strayhom was written for the great alto sax soloist Jonny Hodges in the Ellington Band. This timeless classic is arranged for horn and orchestra by Colin Skinner.

Peter Maxwell Davies’s Sea Eagle was written for Richard Watkins and has become a favourite test piece for aspiring horn players. The second movement from this challenging music is given a stunning peTformance from Lee and it fits the style of the album in a remarkable way. Gymnopedie No 1 by Satie arranged Lee for horn and keyboard synthesiser has a special ethereal beauty which suits the music perfectly. Arvo Part’s Spiegel im Speigel arranged by Lee was originally written for cello. Lee makes no apology for his long note practise nor should he. Long notes don’t come any better than this. David Bowie’s Life on Mars is one of the best tracks on the disc and a moving and fitting end to an album that has come from the heart and a big heart it is. Stunning horn playing from a special musician.