Alison Rayner: Quintet A Magic Life

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This modern jazz album is one about which you could say very little or write an essay. On one level, it’s easy listening, and you can play it as pleasant background music; given the musicianship of the players, that’s like using a Lamborghini to nip to Tesco. Jazz players of this calibre make it all sound so easy.

On the other hand, if you crank up the sound, it’s a refreshing and uplifting collection of tunes, referencing both jazz and classical (and has annoying moments of “I know that from somewhere”, though all tunes are written by Rayner, bass player and composer).

The band members clearly know each well and there’s a lot of tight interplay between them. It’s all somehow life-affirming — Rayner says this is deliberate, because it was inspired by a friend who wrote her own obituary, saying how magic her life had been, and by a young lad who asked if music was stronger than magic (cue collective snort from the Review Corner, “Of course it is!”).

It’s all of a high standard but standouts for us include The Trunk Call, laid-back and with a subtle Indian feel (inspired by Keralan temple festival drummers), followed by the almost proggy Mayday, which bursts with energy and has some fine guitar work; it’s about Mayday from the trade union angle, not children and ribbons.

New Day starts off sounding familiar and seems to go like the Mission Impossible theme in places. Also good is Swanage Bay, (though the intro is very similar to shoegazers Logh’s The Contractor and the Assassin, undoubtedly accidental). That song is about Rayner’s last holiday before her parents split and sounds suitably nostalgic, though it makes Swanage sound more exciting than it really is.

Out on Blow the Fuse Records, BTF1613CD.

A magic link:

About jerobear

Weekly newspaper editor in Cheshire, England. I blog my editorials and the CDs I write about. I play drums, drink coffee, play music, meditate. I hate filling in forms.

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