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Issue 1090

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Review

QCBA: Beauty In Quiet Places

QCBA

9

6.1

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UK release date 24.09.2015

From the moment opener "Fuerteventura" slips into view, you know youâre in for something magical...this track is hard to pin-down, exciting rhythms are chopped and changed like the gloriously serpetine head of the piece, as QCBA hit the ground running on this fast latin swing beauty.

As things develop it's hard to fathom who steals the show, sometimes it's the organ which drives things along chordally and bottom end wise. At others, It's Allen's robust saxophone - check the splendid "Modal Tranesition", with it's repeated and then augmented melodic figure proving incisive. But hang on wait a sec! What about Collins's virtuosic outpourings, especially on this one too? Suffice to say they seem completely locked in, yet fully able to express themselves, entirely for the benefit of this new recording. What you have is four masters in action and sync. They know full well about that all important metric of group cohesion, textbook exercises and how to put the music first and not step on each other's toes doing it.

QCBA grasp the value of employing a catchy melody as a jumping-off point for improvisational excursions, such as the gospel blues of "Handshake" - it's so damn infectious, it's almost impossible to resist.

The sheer imagination and inventiveness on this CD reflects QCBA's immersion in all schools of proper music, but no matter what, they most certainly retain their imperious identity as jazz musicians. The rhythmic palette on this disc is rich, varied, and exciting and that has a lot to do with drummer, Enzo Zirilli's underpinning grooves and his backbeat sensibilities are always in the foreground, driving such tunes as the unctuous sounding cracker "Beauty In Quiet Places". A seamless driving mélange of jazz funk, that facilitates blowing melodic solos over his motoric rhythms... These cats get in between the cracks as they establish a springboard for hard / post bop voicings and phraseology, which are especially attractive.

The two horn men never cross each other up, either when trading off on solos, or working ensemble passages, or playing call-and-response, they communicate at ease - eerily telepathic!

"Oscar's Lullaby" is the perfect vehicle for Collins's spry flugel playing epitomising, his abundant lyricism and taste and "Don't Behave" goes from hard funk to hard swing, highlighting Allen's groove ridden compositions as well as his rock solid soloing - proving he's one of the great instrumental melodists around and at this point.

I also have to bring in Ross Stanley on organ, a player so possessed, he sounds if he's just been let out of solitary confinement! His sharp incisive playing throughout, glues this exceptional quartet well and truly together. He reminds me of the late great organist Melvin Rhyne, once Wes Montgomery's sideman and anchor...

This is a band that seems to have all the questions answered and all the relevant styles sewn up, yet despite it all, at their heart, they are a monumental free-form jazz explosion when they are let of the leash and on the lash! Don't get me wrong they offer restraint in the right dosage. Let's not forget these pieces are tightly composed (they share four a piece) with outstanding solos with sometimes, as I indicated beforehand, a thrilling loss of control never that far away. This can only be a good thing, stretching out in exciting ways activating something literally head strong and ecstatic within this incredible band. Take a risk (it won't be a big one) and check them out! I dare you.......
Words Emrys Baird

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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