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CD Review: Only Just Begun

Paul Duffy
PaDusic Recordings: PD14-01
Total Playing Time: 63 minutes approx

The CD is available from: http://www.padusic.com/

There is little doubt that Paul Duffy enjoys making music: If you are blessed with a talent like his, then no wonder you would have a twinkle in your eye and a smile on your face every time you picked up an instrument to play.  


The Liverpudlian first caught the attention of the banding world playing with St Helen's Youth Band around a decade ago, but it was his signing for Black Dyke and his subsequent move to become the long term soprano replacement for the great Peter Roberts that saw his precocious talent really blossom.

Under the careful nurturing of Nicholas Childs, he soon made a startling impression - not just with the quality of his performances, but by the way in which he did so with such bravura fearlessness: That playful smile of sheer enjoyment never left his chops. 

His decision to step down from the Queensbury band in late 2013 may have come as a surprise, but behind the cheeky grin lay a grim determination to forge a successful musical career away from the insular boundaries of the brass band genre. 

Bold evidence

This eclectic and hugely enjoyable debut release is the bold evidence that he is certainly doing that and more: He is not short of confidence, charisma, inventiveness and sheer hutzpah.

‘Only Just Begun’ sees him perform on 26 different instruments; from soprano to tuba, saxophone to piano, on a range of easy listening repertoire that is sure to win him many more new fans. 

He wrote or arranged nearly all the numbers on the release and even produced it himself, recording the tracks from Gothenburg to Morley in 2014, fitting things in around his increasingly busy schedule. 

Engaging self confidence

The engaging self-confident verve is clear to hear; from jazz standards and high octane ear-splitting solos, to bluesy ballads, vocal inserts, playful duets, hymn tunes and gospel classics. 

Each is performed with stylish nuance and free flowing musicality; many enhanced further by intelligent partnerships with the likes of talented vocalist, Emma Bjornell and instrumentalists of the quality of John Doyle, Richard Marshall and Peter Moore. 

That’s some backing band by anyone’s standards - and he even manages to get his old Queensbury band involved too, as well as a great sounding gospel choir.

Bite sized stuff

From the opening ‘Popular Fusion’ to the closing ‘Deep Harmony’ via Duke Ellington, Freddie Mercury and Irving Berlin, it’s relaxed and informal bite-sized stuff (no track is longer than six minutes and even the sleeve notes are entertainingly written) - and all the better for not having that over polished, sanitised artificial feel of production perfection about it. 

No-one ever really liked the smile of Bob Monkhouse or Tony Blair did they now?

Malcolm Wood

Track Listing:

1. Popular Fusion (Paul Duffy)
2. A Mother's Waltz (Paul Duffy)
Featuring John Doyle (flugel)
3. Nobody Does It Better (Marvin Hamlisch arr Robin Dewhurst)
Featuring Black Dyke and Emma Bjornell
4. Cheek to Cheek (Irving Berlin arr Paul Duffy)
5. Only Just Begun (Roger Nichols arr Bill Geldard)
6. Close Your Eyes (Paul Duffy)
7. Bella Bella (Paul Duffy)
Featuring Richard Marshall (cornet)
8. Vim and Vigour (Paul Duffy)
9. Small Things (Paul Duffy)
10. Somebody To Love (Freddie Mercury arr Paul Duffy)
Featuring Black Dyke and Millennium Gospel Choir
11. Don't Get Around Much Anymore (Duke Ellington arr Paul Duffy)
Featuring Emma Bjornell
12. Day by Day (Oscar Ahnfelt arr Paul Duffy)
Featuring Peter Moore (trombone)
13. All Good Things (Paul Duffy)
14. Deep Harmony (Handel Parker)

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Conductor, Band Trainer and Adjudicator.