facebook twitter rss vimeo shop label support us


CD review: 56° North

Mike Lovatt
Featuring: Foden's Band
Conductors: Colin Skinner, Paul Fisher, Michael Fowles
Featuring: Philip Cobb, Danny Marsden, Gareth Small, Jeremy Brown, Graham Harvey, Matt Skelton
WOS CD 139


5 star

It may have taken Mike Lovatt four decades or more to record his first solo album - but for those who enjoy world class brass musicianship it has been well worth the wait.

His choice to undertake it with Foden’s came from an eye-opening concert they played together in 2017. His choice of repertoire however derives from the profound influence of his parents Sheila and Ken, as well as his father-in-law George Morfee - all amateur musicians of passionate enthusiasm and endeavor.

It’s not often CD sleeve notes become essential reading, but here they bring a very personal insight into the inspiration behind an outstanding release.


For a player who has rubbed shoulders in his working life with the late greats of Maurice Murphy and Derek Watkins, as well as the modern tyros such as Philip Cobb (not to mention a certain Seth MacFarlane), what you get, not surprisingly with each of the 13 sumptuous tracks, are performances of remarkable stylistic prowess.

The generosity of spirit in homage and spotlight also adds an extra dimension - from the opening Kenny Baker inspired ‘Mame’ to the stonking ‘Chinatown’ closer via personal touches of gratitude and friendship to colleagues past, present and hopefully future. 

Legendary composers such as Jerry Herman, Frederick Loewe, Duke Ellington, Sergio Mendes, Lesley Bricusse and Jerry Goldsmith couldn’t have wished for anything better - let alone Peter Meechan and Colin Skinner, whose textured, subtly coloured arrangements form the flexible backbone (the accompaniment throughout underpinned by razor-sharp kit-playing) on which the soloist brings his considerable and considered talents to bear.     

The generosity of spirit in homage and spotlight also adds an extra dimension - from the opening Kenny Baker inspired ‘Mame’ to the stonking ‘Chinatown’ closer via personal touches of gratitude and friendship to colleagues past, present and hopefully future. 

Suave coolness

Jazz classics and traditional standards are balanced by stratospheric whizzbangers and deft flugel melancholy.  

‘El Gato’ almost bursts your eardrums, whilst ‘Poppy Song’ is a piccolo delicacy. The suave coolness of ‘So Many Stars’ sits comfortably with the tender ‘Song for Fyfe’; the familiar strains of ‘Pure Imagination’ and ‘Pops is Tops’ leave you smiling in fulfillment as if you’ve just stuffed a handful of  Willy Wonka everlasting gobstoppers in your mouth. 

Everything in fact is delivered with a level of gemlike polish and flawless, sophisticated style.

It's a golden ticket CD release to savour.

Iwan Fox

To Purchase: http://www.worldofbrass.com/100484.html

Play list:

1. Mame (Jerry Herman arr. Roland Shaw/Colin Skinner)
2. Under Mount Lee (Various arr. Colin Skinner)
3. Weary Laddie (Colin Skinner)
4. If Ever I Would Leave You (Frederick Loewe arr. Colin Skinner)
5. El Gato (Duke Ellington arr. Colin Skinner)
6. So Many Stars (Sergio Mendes arr. Colin Skinner)
7. Rhapsody for Trumpet (Colin Skinner)
8. Song for Fyfe (Colin Skinner)
9. Poppy Dance (Andrew Smith arr. Colin Skinner)
10. Song of Hope (Peter Meechan)
11. Pure Imagination (Leslie Bricusse & Anthony Newly arr. Colin Skinner)
12. Pops is Tops (Various arr. Colin Skinner)
13. Chinatown (Jerry Goldsmith adapt. Colin Skinner)

Support us for less than a cup of coffee...

4BR wants to ensure that the brass band movement remains vibrant and relevant. We also want to be able to question, challenge and critically examine those who run and play in it, producing high quality journalism that informs as well as entertains our readers.

So if like us you value a strong, independent perspective on the brass band world - then why not consider becoming a supporter and help make our future and that of a burgeoning brass band movement more secure.

So one less cappuccino then?

Support us    

Black Dyke Band - Mirfield Parish Church

Thursday 21 March • Mirfield Parish Church, 38 Church Lane, Mirfield WF14 9HX

Regent Hall Concerts - Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama Brass Band

Friday 22 March • Regent Hall (The Salvation Army). 275 Oxford Street Opp. RESERVED. London . W1C 2DJ W1C 2DJ

The Fairey Band - Ensembles from Bramhall High School

Friday 22 March • Seal Rd, Bramhall, Stockport SK7 2JT SK7 2JT

Black Dyke Band - Victoria Hall

Saturday 23 March • The Victoria Hall, Knowsley Street, Bolton BL1 2AS

Foden's Band - Matt Ford - Newtown, Powys

Saturday 23 March • The Hafren Theatre, Newtown, Powys SY16 4HU

Tongwynlais Temperance Band

March 18 • Due to player relocation, The Tongwynlais Temperance Band are searching for a PRINCIPAL CORNET to lead its hard-working cornet section. The ideal candidate will be a strong individual performer, reliable and committed, leading by example.

Enderby Band

March 18 • Current Midlands Regional Champions, Championship Section in 2020, National Finalists 2018 and 2019 and Bolsover 1st Section Champions require SOLO TROMBONE and BBb BASS. We are hard working and sociable and are looking for like-minded players to join us.

Bedford Town Band

March 18 • Bedford Town Band (London and SC, 2nd section, having just qualified for the National Finals in Cheltenham) have a vacancy for a Soprano Cornet. We are a friendly, ambitious and sociable band with a range of concerts and contests planned.

Dr. Stephen Arthur Allen

D. Phil. (Oxon) [Ph.D Oxford University], GBSM, LTCL, ABSM, ALCM, Cert. Ed.