REVIEW: Allison Neale Quartet at Lauderdale House

Allison Neale
Publicity Photo by Benjamin Amure

Allison Neale Quartet 
(Lauderdale House, 8 November 2018. Review by Brian Blain) 

"Nice to hear some really melodic stuff" was the verdict of one woman as an all-smiles audience exited altoist Allison Neale's Art Pepper-inspired evening at Lauderdale House last Thursday Maybe Neale's sound is a bit less robust than Pepper's but this was nothing that intelligent use of low level PA couldn't fix and the overall band sound was immaculate all evening. Every other aspect of Pepper's playing - the long flowing lines, the bite and passion, the beautiful understated swing and complete understanding with the other musicians – pianist Alex Bryson, a great new find with deep Bud Powell roots, bassist Darren McCarthy and drummer Matt Fishwick, whose mastery of dynamics in what can be a tricky room for drummers, was real quality-meant that this was a jazz experience to savour and roll around the tongue.

Some of the material was from the classic Meets the Rhythm Section (Miles Davis's, Red Garland Philly Joe Jones, Paul Chambers) sets with Pepper's original, Patricia, a beautiful ballad with real depth and that yearning melancholia that was such a feature of the writing of the bop era. Other tunes followed the typical formula of the era based on standards such as Suzy the Poodle (Indiana) and the brilliantly volatile (and flying) Straight Life (After You've Gone). Tin Tin Deo was a really attractive theme that put part of its toe in a heavily rimshotted Latin feel that was typical of West Coast exotica of the period but which was the only part of the evening that to my ears sounded a tad dated.

As all you hipsters say, 'Big Up' to Allison for including Begin the Beguine an unusual long form standard that is rarely heard, although –oddly enough – Elaine Delmar did include it in her show the previous week. A massive hit for Artie Shaw, but then he was one of the most brilliant, if acerbic, musicians in the history of the music.

Footnote: Allison and vibist Nat Steele have put together a festival within the EFG London one.It's at Toulouse Lautrec in Kennington, a fine French bistro and brasserie, with an upstairs cabaret-style room for the main bands. Unashamedly straight-ahead it will feature musicians from the US and Europe as well as some of the best of the UK. Music will roam both West and East Coast and includes tributes to Art Blakey and Sonny Rollins with the MJQ.

Brian Blain is a programmer at Lauderdale House

LINKS: BOPFEST website
Brasserie Toulouse Lautrec is at 140 Newington Butts, London SE11 4RN – Website

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