"Spy Jazz??" Can’t say that I’ve ever heard of this subgenre before this CD. Orchestral jazz, yes.... and this is a nice variety of that. Hillman is very much into the synthesizer and all things electronic, and it actually works for him. From the opening chords of track 1, Fired Up, you can feel the energy that the revved-up engine of his innovative electronics and horns-rich sound kicks up. The categorization of this CD (spy jazz) becomes justified as many tunes do, in fact, remind one of a spy spoof (maybe a James Bond fight or chase scene or even a love scene). Lots of well-placed, dramatic horns and jazzy sax runs. There is a lot going on throughout the arrangements on this CD. Hillman goes from flute-mellow (track 2, Linda’s Theme, and track 6, the somewhat bluesy and appropriately titled Flute Jazz, are a good examples) to suspenseful and upbeat (track 3, Long Hot Night, comes to mind). Then, there are pieces like Thirties Thing (track 7), a peppy, jazzy little piece featuring some stylish tickling of the ivories.
My favorite is probably track 10, Slow Down, with its mysterious, slinky feel. It’s even, in its own unique way, moderately funky as much as one can imagine in such a setting as orchestral/spy jazz. What the Hell, at track 11, is probably what some will wonder when first hearing this piece. There’s a tribal aura about this one combined with strings and a slightly terrestrial presence. Imagine that, if you can! The up tempo portion of The Chase Is On (track 13) is definitely a piece tailored for 007. I came away from this one with images of a chase scene through the French Alps with Sean Connery in his Aston Martin.
Throughout this orchestral/soundtrack-quality CD, great piano offerings from Hillman, coupled with the caressing melodies of flutist Gareth Davies and the competent jazzy sax of one Iain Ballamy, do a lot toward carrying this CD and marking it as one that can comfortably represent this type of jazz. Spy jazz. Hmm.... I’ll have to mentally file that one away for future reference. I love how one can acquire an education on the subgenres of jazz while conducting these reviews! A win-win situation.