Reviews of CD "Homecoming" (Mainstem 2017):
Glen Manby Quintet: Homecoming review – stylish hard bop ****
"Jazz is constantly throwing up new genres and forms, but hard bop continues to outlive them all. Perhaps because it is technically demanding, it seems to attract more than its fair share of talented musicians too. Alto saxophonist Glen Manby is a case in point. Fully at home in the idiom, with a polished technique and mature tone, he’s an eloquent player. Normally based in Cardiff, he appears here with four of Britain’s A-team: trumpeter Steve Waterman, pianist Leon Greening, bassist Adam King and drummer Matt Home. Most of the 10 numbers are Manby originals, plus pieces by Wayne Shorter, Quincy Jones et al. All round, it’s a stylish session, with a good variety of mood and tempo."
Dave Gelly The Observer, Sunday 19 Feb 2017
Jazz Journal ****
"This well-balanced and finely integrated quintet speaks bebop fluently with a South Wales accent, the leader being a fixture in and around Cardiff and, along with Waterman, having teaching connections in the city. The rhythm section has been parachuted in from London but has absolutely no difficulty with the local language, to the point where their cohesion and familiarity with some clean, unfussy and elegant arrangements is remarkable.
Greening's free-flowing lyricism at the keyboard provides an inspired foil to the horns, especially when they play unison passages (Night Flight and Us, for example). The leader contributed seven original themes to this programme, all with that quirky hard-bop edge. Perhaps an exception is his tuneful, tongue-twisterly Boss Bop Bossa with its latin lines, taken at a gentle lope in a minor key. Blue inflections are hinted at by Greening in a thoughtful solo that follows the impressive Waterman on low-register flugel. The leader then follows, full-toned and eschewing the shrillness which is a feature of some modern alto. For a prime example of Greening in flight, try his idea loaded solo on Skippy, one of Manby's compositions in which he gives every band member time in the spotlight. Here, bass and drums combine in an eloquent rumble and the "out" theme is repeated twice. The leader's sinuous Mayfly is a medium-paced beauty which Greening and King decorate in contrasting styles, exiting in a wash of cymbals.
There is, in fact, a satisfying sense of contrast in this uplifting set, the recording supported by the Arts Council of Wales and Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff, where Manby plays regularly. He has appeared at the Brecon Jazz Festival, but Wales has basically kept him to itself too long"
Anthony Troon Jazz Journal May 2017
London Jazz News
"This finely integrated quintet speaks hard bop fluently while embracing other modern jazz idioms in a forward-thinking fashion. Glen Manby, a Cardiff-based altoist, is joined by a top London band with Steve Waterman, trumpet; Leon Greening, piano; Adam King, bass; and drummer Matt Home. They all fully rise to the occasion, with both cohesion and a familiarity with the elegant and clean arrangements.
Manby has contributed seven distinguished themes, all with an incisive and quirky hard bop edge that drives this collection relentlessy throughout. The inclusion of Wayne Shorter's Yes or No, Kenny Dorham's Una Mas, and Quincy Jones' Quintessence all provide variety and changes of mood.
Waterman's shimmering trumpet is in cracking form throughout and is followed closely in the solo stakes by Leon Greening's piano. His free-flowing lyricism provides an inspired foil to the horn's outings. Bassist King is surely one of the finest of the younger players to have emerged for years. He scores highly alongside Home's drums on Skippy with their eloquent "theme rumble" over the repeated closing melodic statement.
Manby is a graduate of the Jazz and Contempary Music Programme at The New School in NYC and went on to earn his MA in Jazz at the Royal Welsh School of Music and Drama in Cardiff. He was also awarded an Arts Council of Wales Research and Development grant to study with the late saxophonist George Robert (1960-2016), founder and director of the Jazz Department of the Lausanne Conservatory (HEMU) in Switzerland.
Homecoming was funded by an Arts Council of Wales Project Grant and what a great investment this turned out to be. More of this please as this sort of funding is clearly lacking for jazz projects in recent times. A promising debut and one hopes that this band will have the oppportunity to tour. Hard bop lives and is in no better hands than the Glen Manby Quintet."
Frank Griffith London Jazz News 11 Dec 2017
click here for review on London Jazz News website
The Jazz Rag:
"Ten attractive themes, seven of them by Glen Manby, the altoist/leader of this local quintet, are delivered here, providing a pleasurable hour of easy-listening jazz. Night Flight is a medium swinger, with an inventive solo by trumpetman Steve Waterman, in which he impresses in the upper register, some groovy piano from Leon Greening, excellent Manby alto, and hot fours with the drums of Matt Home.
Farewell is a melancholy piece, with effective solos all round. Wayne Shorter's Yes Or No is a stirring uppish vehicle. Boss Bop Bossa sparkles in a Latin vein. Skippy is another fine up-swinger. Mayfly has sumptuous ballad alto, before the time goes happily upwards. Kenny Dorham's Una Mas becomes Latinish for the enjoyment of all. Heimweh is a further lively excursion. Quincy Jones' Quintessence is familiar-sounding and relaxing listening. The group's sprightly finale is a Latin item called Homecoming, which confirms that this is British jazz at its best."
Les Tomkins The Jazz Rag May 2017
"This is an impressive album from Manby who acquits himself well in such stellar company and provides some engaging original material for his all star guests to get their teeth into...
Manby’s own tunes are written very much in the hard bop idiom but they more than hold their own, especially when played by such an all star band as this...
any opportunity to see him performing with the quintet that appears on this album would be one not to be missed."
Ian Mann The Jazzman 5 January 2017
For full review:
Glen Manby - Homecoming
"Great to hear this debut album from saxophonist Glen Manby, straight out of the hard bop top drawer and a real breath of fresh air to boot. A driving, hard swinging set with some memorable compositions from the leader along with some firecracker solos from the front line horns and pianist Leon Greening....
A fine set in the hard bop idiom that does not look back, but to the present and how to keep this exciting music moving forward. Thoroughly recommended."
Nick Lea 31 March 2017
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Amazon customer reviews *****
"If you are looking for well crafted jazz without tiresome gimmicks or egocentric blustering, then this offering will reward and delight. Always at the service of the music, this unit has a tight, 'together' sound with no weak solos and no dull moments. This type of playing doesn't age and Glen has been performing truly and consistently for many years. This disc deserves to be heard and won't disappoint." 5 stars
"Where has saxophonist Glen Manby been hiding all my life? I had never so much as heard of his name until this cropped up as an Amazon recommendation, but the presence of Steve Waterman on trumpet and the sublime Leon Greening on piano made this an instantly essential purchase as did the additon of bassist Adam King - surely the finest young bassist to have emerged for years. This is a programme of hard bop classic mixed with a few originals by the leader in a similar vein. Steve Waterman is on crackling form throughout although Leon Greening on piano sounds a little more subdued than he usually does - supporting effectively without pushing himself to the fore whilst the playing of the leader makes me wonder why I have never come across him before." 5 stars