Issie Barrett - Astral Pleasures (4 stars)

Issie Barrett - Astral Pleasures

(Fuzzy Moon Records)


Issie Barrett’s debut recording directing a 20-piece orchestra is brimming over with arresting music. A composer and conductor pushing at the boundaries of conventional big band music, Barrett has a considerable reputation in jazz education circles, but her work as a composer deserves to be much better known.

Barrett’s imaginative and often striking ensemble arrangements are superbly played by the band. The six compositions are all given extended treatments (‘Dublin Soundscape’ stretches over 20-minutes, but readily maintains interest), and the soloists – including trumpeter Anders Bergcrantz and saxophonist Mark Lockheart – make pungent contributions. The great Mike Gibbs produced the session, adding further kudos to an already highly recommendable project.