Alison Rayner Quintet
Sunday, April 2nd, 2017
Reviewer: Reg Webb

More than two weeks after the event, this gig still lives in my memory, as much for the spirit behind it as for its high quality musical content.


I'm making a distinction here between ego-based jazz (Roland Kirk might be a good example), and team-based jazz, of which this gig was a very good example.

This time last year, Alison Rayner played bass in Deirdre Cartwright's band at the club; and this time round, Deirdre played guitar in Alison's quintet (ARQ), and the transition felt effortless.


Many male musicians co-operate in a similar way successfully of course, but as an aspect of the discussion of 'Women in Jazz', I get the feeling that we males have something to learn here.


The musical focus of this gig was firmly on Alison's new album A Magic Life (Blow The Fuse Records). They played most of it, including compositions by other band members.

On listening to the album afterwards, I'm struck

by how tunes change over time when people are performing them live (Trunk Call, for example). They also played two tunes from Alison's debut album, August - Mr Stanley I Presume, and Half A World Away.

One aspect of jazz which can be a serious formal limitation is the fact that, most of the time, musicians find themselves improvising on the same chords over, and over, and over again, a limitation I call 'round and roundness'.

Consciously or not, Alison Rayner is getting away from this, by giving different soloists different material to improvise on, which I thought was a wonderful thing.

I haven't singled out anyone for special mention, and I think that's right. All five - the others being Steve Lodder, Diane McLoughlin and Buster Birch - were excellent, and they all sounded like they were part of the same band.


Chris Secker on sound must also be regarded as part of the team, and this was yet another of Steve Wright's gigs which left me with new music to enjoy live, things to think about, and two new CDs.

Thanks to all concerned. You were great.