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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

CD Review: Rachael Cohen Quartet - Half Time.

Rachael Cohen (alt); Phil Robson (gtr); Calum Gourlay (bs); James Bashford (dms).
(Review by Lance)
Anybody out there remember lyrical? It's what the old jazz alto greats had in abundance. Pepper, Desmond, Carter, Hodges, Parker they all had it. Then, along came Eric Dolphy and Ornette and lyricism suddenly became an endangered species threatened with extinction.
Well I've got news for you, with this CD lyrical is back big time!
Those who heard Cohen at her Splinter gig at the Bridge Hotel last month won't be surprised - it was a great gig and this disc is a worthy reminder of the occasion. On that particular evening, the CD was promoted but, owing to a break-in and the theft of the master from a New York studio, she didn't have any discs for sale!
America sneezes the rest of the world catches a cold?
Fortunately, all has been resolved, the remix and remastering is complete and the album is now available from a website near you - I don't know if they caught the punks but if they did, let's hope it "made some cop's day".
Back to the music. Well worth the wait. Cohen, I repeat, has given lyricism a new life although not without adding some contemporary touches (track 9 - Free Speech - gives lyricism a brief respite). The compositions are all her own save for Just For You - a piece by Ornette Coleman. Have the cops asked Ornette where he was on the night of the robbery?
As she did at the Bridge, Cohen reveals a pure alto tone and a technique suited to a calculated 1500 metres rather than the 100 metre dash favoured by some of her contemporaries. The original compositions are just that - not, (unless they're more cleverly disguised than usual!), re-workings of How High The Moon or a 12 bar in Bb - but true originals.
Alongside, Phil Robson is supportive and has his own bag of solo lyricism to throw into the pot and it is as essential to the mix as the tonic is to the gin. Gourlay, Glasgow born, London bas(s)ed plays with the passion one (ie me) gets from a single malt whilst Birmingham based Bashford (not sure what they drink in Birmingham - "anything" I'm told) displays the technique and sympathetic support that impressed the audience at the Bridge.
Another CD of the Year contender. I give up - the standard this year is just so high!
Rachael Cohen Quartet - Half Time is officially released on  November 18 on Whirlwind Recordings WR4644.
Lance.

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