Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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UK release date 15.07.2019

Some majestic modal musing kicks of this live album from the heart of Soho (no not Ronnie's but the no2 jazz venue Pizza Express).Pianist,Tim Lapthorne kicks off with a style heavy in the McCoy Tyner school which woke me out of my sunday torpor and made my ears prick up.Drummer Lloyd Haines' jazz strides are on the money too his tickling ride cymbal pings with drive and offbeat accents set up an exhilarating lope through the opener,'Gone But Not Forgotten'.A bright start to what turns out to being a thrilling and satisfying album headed by a staunch quartet.

Saxophonist Allen, a vigorous, rich-voiced exponent of hard-bop goes off-piste but there's an element of earlier 50's classicism about him especially on the jaunty sounding ' Lazy Day'.I'ts as if the Pizza Express Soho has turned into Englewood Heights and the two track is rolling- it's no mean feat to get that sound many have tried to replicate it and many have failed however this live recording positively fizzles with it.

The mark of any classy Jazz outfit is how well they play a ballad.'Cuckoo' without doubt evokes the spiritual stillness of a Coltrane slowburner and highlights Lapthorne's compositional prowess.The track develops into something more subtle with Allen's evocative tenor solo ably matched by bassist Arnie Somogyi's flight of fancy too.

The stakes get raised with the explosive 'Running Away From Me' - Allen comes into his own with a ferocious solo his melodic touch is almost always masterful and his wailing is tempered sweetly too - drummer Haines shows he's keen to get in on the action too with a riveting burst of life, adorned by crisp snare rolls that snap crackle and pop.

Some light is offered instead of the shade from the last tune in the shape of the relaxing mid swinger,'Theodore'.A delightful tune dedicated to his new born baby boy.Allen's infectious and melodic agility shines through offering the listener some alternative lyricism than the more fiercer, reflective themes.Lapthorne and Allen have plainly found themselves the ideal rhythm section as a vehicle for their creative outputs,they swing like a barn door in a hurricane!

Final track and a social commentary belter 'Frack The Right' Is boldly expansive, again those big fat modal chords are a marvel.And,for all the rhythmic complexity, Allen's sax and Lapthorne's playing produce just the right amount of depth of melody and harmony on this stonking behemoth of a tune.All beautifully captured by PE's in house engineer Luc Saint Martin who has magically harvested the chemistry and conditions and got them down on tape.BATL have a beautiful and musical friendship that augurs extremely well for the future,revealingly portrayed by this hefty slice of work.
Words Emrys Baird

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