Personnel: Alex Mendham (vocals, alto saxophone); Matt Redman (guitar, banjo); Orpheus Papafilippou (violin); Nick Charles (clarinet, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone); Simon Marsh (clarinet, tenor saxophone); Geoff Bartholomew, Angus Moncrieff (trumpet); Chris Lowe (trombone); Marc Easener (tuba); Trevor Wensley (piano); Nicholas D. Ball (percussion).
Audio Mixer: Bryan Wright.
Liner Note Authors: Bryan Wright; Ray Frensham; Alex Mendham.
Recording information: Heath Street Baptist Church, Hampstead, London, England (10/01/2012-10/02/2012).
Editor: Bryan Wright.
Photographers: Bryan Wright; Gordon Ayres; Ryan McDonnell.
Based on its cover art, Whistling in the Dark seems like an old archival release, digging up the forgotten recordings of a '20s or '30s crooner or bandleader. This is entirely intentional, of course. Alex Mendham trades upon the sound and style of the '20s and '30s, digging deep into the era, excavating arrangements from the time and then leading his orchestra with gusto. As a teenager, Mendham was knocked out by Bix Beiderbecke and now that he's a young man in his twenties, he retains some of that adolescent enthusiasm, which is what makes Whistling in the Dark something surprising: it's precise in re-creating its era, but performed with vigor. This isn't a musty museum piece; it's living, breathing music and, as this 20-track CD rolls on, the Alex Mendham Orchestra can makes it seem like the '20s and '30s have never gone away, which is no small trick. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine