Excellent, what a different sound this is, 10/10 brilliant!
Jeff Kirby – Radio Calderdale
Fine example of an NCM track
Martin Van de Lan – Radio Compiegne Belgium
A clever rap and Jazz mix, Cool beat, I enjoyed it! 8/10
Vince Giles, Honeycomb Music Publishing
This is for the thoughtful listener and as a certain celebrity once said 'nice'.
Roger Hill, In Touch Magazine
This is a good good sound 9/10
Samuel Purdy, Radio Consultant Northern Ireland.
John, I loved this album, IT’S TOPS!!
Dennis Payne – Radio Son FM Australia.
Excellent, wonderful ‘night feel’ to this album
Rob Hillar, Presenter, Radio Atlanta
Well done, good mix on Big City Calling 8/10
Dennis Payne, SON Fm Mildura Australia
This album has a nice refreshing and funky feel
Jeff Kirby, Radio Calderdale UK
This album is excellent 9/10
Myriam Perdeams, Cool Fm Belgium
There’s a combination of vocals on this well worked disc including Rapper Jahaziel and it works really well
Roger Hill, Reviewer and Journalist – In Touch Magazine.
Ian Shaw Review
John Heavens' debut album is an impressive affair. Funky, witty and diverse, this collection of originals ( A very appealing voice and guitar take on "Nature Boy" seems to belong to a very contrasting, as yet unreleleased standards album) recalls the Brit-Funk of The Average White band and the English Soul of those mid seventies delights, Kokomo.
Heavens has stage-managed the affair almost single-handedly, calling upon a stellar cast of UK singers, horn players and a delightfully funky Andrea Vicari on piano. The songs are fresh and groovy, often teasing the listener with well arranged intros, Tower Of Power style, easing into head-nodding grooves and framing Heavens' well intoned and refreshingly unadorned vocal delivery.
BBC Jazz Singer of the year 2007
Propaganda Music Magazine Review
This one’s a real gem: a labour of love from a man with an outstanding soul voice and a genuine feel for Jazz. Inspired by Duke Ellington’s devotional mass The Sacred Concert, John Heavens puts his all into this sparkling jazz debut, creating nine original compositions – co written with the Jazz composer/arranger Andrea Vicari, here on piano - that tell their own unique story.
The opening track Monday on Freedom Street takes soul destroying 9-5 jobs to task, a message Rapper Jahaziel underscores with some powerful free styling: Transatlantic Love Affair soars with Duncan Eagles on Soprano Sax and gospel-tinged backing vocals. With their toe-tapping grooves and clever arrangements all the tracks feels ‘Brit-funk’ fresh; Heavens voice which he ‘discovered’ at church is subtle, clear, beautifully intoned (he’s been trained by world-class vocalists and it shows). Accordion and tabla add an extra dimension, especially on two instrumental tracks. A stylistically divers album that rewards repeated listening.
Propaganda Music Magazine
CD Review – Paul Davis NCM Journalist and Broadcaster
Wow! Pop-jazz for the common urban-man with social conscience! Here’s a seemingly tried-and-tested talent who herewith pays his dues with a gentle-jazz ‘musical statement that is wholly under-stated yet unapologetic and ‘direct-to-the-point’. His worldly-wise, down-to-basics album conjures up a blend of ‘street-sense’ with ‘good news’ that is perceptive, devoid of sickly sentiment. Yes, here are some quality gems from a very talented Brit. His engaging style embraces contemporary urban-jazz sounds whose repertoire subjects are profound statements-to-ponder laced with optimistic inspiration delivered a la cabaret-style utilizing a diverse talent rosta. Paraded are Rapper Jahaziel (Daniel Beddingfield, Craig David), Stephanie Meade, Simon King, Peter Rosser, Kuljit Bhamra, Andrea Vicari, Marc Parnell, Dorian Lockett, Rory Simmons, Malcolm Earl Smith, Duncan Eagles & Geoff Gascoyne. His expensive audio-trail has been laudably fashioned for adult-contemporary ears, paraded amid consummate art.
Review by Linley Hamilton BBC Radio Ulster
Big City Calling is a great opportunity to put on display the talents of quite a few unheralded personalities from the London scene. With some beautiful playing from a fourteen piece band, and some very tastefully orchestrated arrangements by pianist Andrea Vicari, a whole album of original music penned by relatively fresh to the scene vocalist / songwriter John Heavens comes to life. The project itself brings so many musical elements together: jazz, groove, rap, funk and soul, enabling a fairly accessible product that should establish John Heavens as a new face on the block. Although he certainly gets the message across when delivering the songs, his voice has yet to reach full potential, something bound to happen in time, nevertheless, this disc is a great first calling card. Arrangements have been put together to feature the whole versatility of a band that moves between full-on brass section to well-voiced backing vocals and a very musical accordionist. The compositions have to be strong in the first place, and although coming from a personal place, offer so much as stand- alone songs!
Jazzwise Magazine 3 stars
This Cambridge-based singer is drawn to the 1970's funky soul era but connects to jazz too. Aside from his sweetly tender voice on ballads. Heavens' more danceable originals show off pianist Andrea Vicari's Average White Band-type horn arrangements.
Chris Parker Jazz Journalist
Having honed his craft on pop, soul and blues singing gigs in the UK and on the continent, John Heavens studied jazz at the Trinity College of Music in 2004, performing Duke Ellington’s ‘Sacred Concert’ while there. His debut album is a wide-ranging affair, comprised of nine originals (arranged by pianist Andrea Vicari) and the Eden Ahbez classic ‘Nature Boy’, arranged by Heavens and guitarist Jonathan Bratoëff. His voice is light but strong and flexible, his lyrics at once personal and of wider significance, dealing with, among other things, the soul-destroying nature of the daily grind, the exploitation of street children and the peril to relationships consequent upon making money. Fronting musicians including Vicari herself, bassist Dorian Lockett and drummer Marc Parnell, and produced by Geoff Gascoyne, Heavens has uncontrived woven everything from light funk and soul to rap and jazz into this lively and listenable album.
Timeout Magazine Review
Singer and flautist Heavens stretches the limits of Jazz influenced song with his own worldly-wise originals which are arranged around tabla, accordion and gospel influenced vocals. The twist in the tail come with a three piece horn section, Rapper (Jahaziel) and a highly charged rhythm section all offering a ‘funk filled’ alternative to the usual cheesy Sinatra wannabees.
Excellent, such a refined taste of quality music
SCAZZOLA GIOVANNI PIETRO - RADIO GOLD POPULAR NETWORK Italy
The Jazzman Online Magazine
“Intelligent song writing, brilliant arrangements and some great playing on this assured début”
For this, his début album vocalist and occasional flautist John Heavens has assembled an impressive range of British jazz talent. Heavens has benefited from vocal coaching from Trudi Kerr and Anita Wardell and the album appears on Kerr’s Jazzizit record label.
The programme concentrates on original material, mainly written by Heavens himself with colourful, high quality arrangements by pianist Andrea Vicari. The sound is strikingly contemporary with elements of soul,rock and rap interconnecting with the jazz content. Rapper Jahaziel appears on the opening “Monday On Freedom Street” and also on “Cry Freedom” as well as adding to the lyrical input.
The presence of Jahaziel plus Vicari’s horn laden arrangements give the whole project an appropriately urban vibe driven by the grooves generated by Vicari, bassist Dorian Lockett and drummer Marc Parnell.
Heavens himself has a relaxed and soulful vocal style that avoids any unnecessary mannerisms or histrionics. He is an intelligent lyric writer, not afraid tackling social and political issues as on the beautiful ballad “Hanoi Lullaby”.
The album kicks off strongly with the propulsive “Monday On Freedom Street” complete with Jahaziel’s rapping on the futility of the nine to five existence. The following “Transatlantic Love Affair” maintains the impetus in soul like vein, the arrangement enlivened by the backing vocals of Stephanie Mead and Simon King.
“Hanoi Lullaby” is a sad tale of the death of a street child through drugs and prostitution. It’s the kind of subject that in the wrong hands could become maudlin or overly sentimental but Heavens and Vicari combine to treat the serious subject matter with the dignity it deserves. Beautifully done.
“Cry Freedom” sees the return of Jahaziel and marks a return to the urban vibe. Meade again joins heavens on the choruses and there is a fine rock influenced guitar solo from F-ire Collective member Jonathan Bratoeff.
Bratoeff is also prominent on the title track another bitter critique of modern urban living. Here, as elsewhere are featured the punchy horn section of Rory Simmons (trumpet) Malcolm Earl Smith (trombone) and Duncan Eagles (saxes). All are excellent throughout the album. Take a bow, lads.
“Voyage Around My Father” is the first of two instrumental tracks. This wistful tune introduces another instrumental voice in the form of Pete Rosser who plays beautifully. Eagles’ lyrical soprano is another plus. Heavens actually sits this one out despite having written it.
The horn section lead off “Hocus Pocus”, probably the closest the album comes to an orthodox jazz arrangement. The song itself is fairly slight, not one of Heavens’ best but Rory Simmons’ trumpet solo helps maintain the interest.
Boudicca’s Voice is another essentially instrumental item and features Heavens on flute. Solo honours go to Smith’s big toned trombone and the whole thing is underpinned by Kuljit Bhamra’s tabla and percussion. It’s an enjoyable workout but not as memorable as the earlier “Voyage”.
“All About Sunday” is another dig at the City work ethic with Simmons trumpet again featuring prominently.
Finally comes the only standard on the album “Nature Boy” arranged and played as a duo by Heavens and Bratoeff. The two complement each other well and the piece works effectively as a dynamic contrast to that which has gone before.
“Big City Calling” is an assured début with a blend of intelligent song writing, brilliant arrangements and some great playing. Heavens and his team blend the various elements into a surprisingly homogeneous whole. This album really was a pleasant surprise.
The Jazzman Online Magazine