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12,399 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 12 years ago. 118 of them this year alone and, so far, 118 this month (Jan. 25).

Friday, September 06, 2019

CD Review: BATL Quartet - Live

Brandon Allen (tenor sax); Tim Lapthorn (piano); Arnie Somogyi (bass); Lloyd Haines (drums).
(Review by Lance)

Saxophone September! After Vasilis Xenopoulos' tribute to Dexter Gordon, along came some previously unreleased tracks from John Coltrane that set the bar so high any aspirants could only dream of coming close - or so I thought!

However, waiting in the wings were albums from Binker Golding, Joe Lovano, Mark Sherman, Dave O'Higgins, Kenny Polson and this one co-led by by Brandon Allen and pianist Tim Lapthorn ...

A live session recorded earlier this year at Pizza Express, Soho, by four musicians totally in sync with each other and pushing Allen to the limit - if he has a limit that is, on this showing I'm not so sure. A previous album paid tribute to Gene Ammons and whilst that influence is still there, evidenced by the gutsy tone, here there's also  contemporary phrasing and exploration of the instrument's higher extremities. For good measure, his ballad playing on Lapthorn's composition, Cuckoo, is nonpareil. The composer also excels on this (and every) track and Somogyi solos with super sensitivity.

Allen's Running Away With Me couldn't have had a better title. If you're doing the Great North Run this weekend, listen on your headphones to set the tempo and you'll finish in front of Mo Farah!

Theodore, written for Allen's son, is a jaunty tune with another impressive solo from Lapthorn as well as, naturally, his co-pilot.

Somogyi and Haines are towers of strength throughout with the former delivering more sensitivity on A Little Love Song whilst the latter goes for it on Frack the Right, a composition by Allen reflecting his discontent about environmental degradation and the descent of morality in politics - it shows in his frenetic tenor solo.

Other tracks: Gone But Not Forgotten; Lazy Day; Return to Life.

Branden Allen is to jazz what a fellow Australian (Steve Smith) is to cricket!
Lance
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