Some records need a lot of thought before having a rating assigned to them. Not this one; I knew after just two tracks it was a five-star.
There has been, in my opinion, little really good, original jazz recorded in the past three years. Much of it is diluted with fusion, funk, hip-hop or what have you and the originals are instantly forgettable.
This one succeeds perhaps because it is fairly basic but played with passion and commitment. The opening blues I Hope You Are Hip goes back to the old days of jousting between players like Sonny Stitt and Gene Ammons. Here it is the acerbic but swinging Toni Solà and the warm and inventive Harry Allen pitching their different tenor styles to good effect.
Isfahan is taken at a medium clip with rousing solos from the leader and pianist Nieto. Solà mixes contemporary flourishes on tenor with good, old fashioned breathy ballad playing on tracks like Ishfahan. Cool, Cool Daddy returns to pulsating blues and introduces the vibrant, bluesy voice of Charmin Michelle. Strong tenor and piano dig in after her solo spot. Charmin also has fine vocals on Midnight Sun and I Remember you. Tin Tin Deo reunites Solà and Harry Allen for another competitive workout on tenor saxes.
To provide contrast and keep up the inventive manner of their playing the quartet without guests play a great slow ballad version of There’ll Be Another Spring and one of the two Solà originals, The Preacher’s Dog, this one a funky blues with the rhythm section pushing and prodding him all the way.
I Hope You Are Hip; Isfahan; Cool Cool Daddy; Tin Tin Deo; Get Out Of Town; Midnight Sun; Groovin’ With Jug; I Remember You; There’ll Be Another Spring; The Preacher’s Dog (55.28)
Solà, Harry Allen (ts); Gerard Nieto (p, org); Ignasi Gonzalez (b, elb); Xavi Hinojosa (d). Barcelona, 8-22 November 2017.
Swing Alley 037