Malcolm Strachan is best known as a founding member and trumpeter with the top UK funk/jazz-funk band The Haggis Horns. The Haggis Horns appeared regularly with The New Mastersounds including their very first album. Malcolm has been performing for over 20 years with such stellar performers as Mark Ronson, Amy WineHouse, Corinne Bailey Rae, and Jamiroquai but just released his ‘rookie’ solo album About Time in March, 2020.
It’s a little change of pace for Malcolm, primarily a jazz collection with all original compositions,written and arranged by Malcolm. From full-on latin vibes to beautiful ballads, soul jazz grooves to cinematic soundtrack flavours, all woven together by a great group of experienced musicians.
Malcolm’s love of jazz comes from his parents and at age 7, his jazz musician father gave him a trumpet. He had a formal musical education but also learned from his dad’s record collection listening to Art Blakey and Dizzy Gillespie records and learning to improvise and solo by ear. While attending Leeds College of Music, he immersed himself in the city’s vibrant acid jazz, funk and soul scene and starting with his recording debut in 1999 with The New Mastersounds. Jazz was always his musical passion but took a back seat to funk/soul/pop which were the day job. Until now.
Jazz is back. The wait is over. It really is “About Time” for Malcolm Strachan. Here’s my track-by-track coverage.
Take Me to the Clouds: Right off the bat, you know this is something special as the piano/strings intro is immediately uplifting as in flight. Malcolm and the horns join in and this is a the start of a memorable journey. The production values are top notch. George Cooper takes a sweet extended piano solo one-third in with horn and string backing sounding like full orchestra. Malcolm comes back with the main theme and he’s clear as a bell. From here on, you know that it’s much more than a solo “trumpet” album.
Mitchell’s Landing: A slow roll starts this with Malcolm + Cooper on piano before the pace immediately picks up to a Latin-like melody with a great horn lick offset in between by some terrific baritone sax work from Rob Mitchell. Atholl Ransome, from the Haggis Horns has a nice extended tenor solo and some wild braying excursions in the middle. Malcolm comes back with a blistering solo with the band pulsing in the background. The closeout is the horns playing against the bari sax again for full force effect.
Better Late Than Never: Piano intro plus full horn chorus lights this one at the start. Malcolm takes a short stint before the head comes back and he takes another extended turn with a muted tone afterward. Cooper takes a turn on a bright meandering piano solo.
Just The Thought Of You: This one starts off with a lush piano + strings combo, evoking a feeling of remembrance. Malcolm comes in with a thoughtful tone a some nice rolling continuous melody. Malcolm carries the lead for virtually the entire length of this one, a change of pace.
Time For A Change: A classic beat starts this one with some nice piano chord interplay before Malcolm comes in to complete the trio. The full horn section comes next with an echo of the main theme. Danny Barley takes his first trombone solo early on and Malcolm takes another turn after the course. This is a nicely propelled tune overall and his solo is very bright. Cooper takes a a couple of cool solos in the second half. This tune reminds me of some of the great Crusaders tunes of the late 1970s.
I Know Where I’m Going: There’s a nice haunting intro piano line before Malcolm comes in with the melody again. The break has just Malcolm bass and drums and percussion for a very smooth feel. The strings come in and the softness of this tune is spread evenly. The second break has Cooper on keys with drums and bass as with Malcolm before. The strings are more pronounced here and it’s a beautiful arrangement.
Aline: Cooper starts with a slower tempo individual note intro. After a while, the horns come in slightly muted with the piano still leading. Of course Malcolm comes in midway and mimics the the main theme taking the place of the piano. It feels like a nice stroll in the woods.
Uncle Bobby’s Last Orders: The opening is a slow roll primarily between trumpet and keys, before Erroll Rollins comes in with some super drum fills. The horns set another solid theme on top. The middle finds Malcolm soaring above the rest of the group and rollicking along with full force. Cooper comes in with another fine solo 2/3 through. Courtny Tomas’ bass line serves as a strong foundation on this tune.
Where Did You Go?: Another piano starts this one; it’s interesting to note that this album is very well balanced between Malcolm’s trumpet and highlighting several of the other players. Again Tomas on bass and Erroll Rollins on the drums with brushes with Cooper form a beautiful combo.Surprise — there’s no horns at all in this number!
Overall this is a fine collection and a view into a different, more jazzy side of Malcolm Strachan. He's put together a nice assortment of tunes and mastered a well thought out and arranged piece of work.
Malcolm Strachan – Trumpet/Flugelhorn
Atholl Ransome – Tenor Sax
Rob Mitchell – Baritone Sax
Danny Barley – Trombone
George Cooper – Piano
Erroll Rollins – Drums
Courtny Tomas – Double Bass
Karl Vanden Bossche – Percussion
Richard Curran – Strings