Alban Claret & Evan Clegg: The Collection

The music owes a big debt to early Parker and Gillespie, but differences in playing style and approach and the less common range of instruments give it a newish sound

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This collection has all the sound and ambience of an early bop session. It really could have been recorded any time from 1945 until now. Not that the line-up is in the classic bebop tradition with the guitar being one of the main solo instruments but in the absence of a piano Mr. Claret is required to fulfil chordal duties in the rhythm section as well.

His partner Evan Clegg favours the lighter sound of the trumpet in a Miles mode, but his lines are pure bop. Eagles, on tenor sax, has a warm, rich sound, far removed from the Rollins/Coltrane hard-edged standard set in the late 1950s. He too though is very much a bopper and with bass and drums playing hard in the section the timeless sound of bop is reproduced smoothly.

The Collection is typical of this band’s output, a fairly brisk tempo in the Charlie Parker tradition and solos from everybody. A clean, bright sound balances everybody in the band neatly and all instruments are heard in a way similar to how they would be heard live. Unprescribed Playfulness is at ballad tempo but again featuring well-worked-out solos from guitar, tenor and trumpet.

Stella By Artois is not so much by starlight but more of a run through for lager louts. It begins with a series of double stops from bassist Luke Fowler and then follows the theme-solos-theme pattern. Claret has a rich, romantic sound in the Barney Kessel tradition, so his playing is a little less bop than his composing. The compositions are all from the two leaders except the last two and Al A Parker, which were written by Claret alone.

The differences in playing styles and approach from the five musicians and the less common range of instruments is what gives this music a newish sound. But it still owes a big debt to early Parker and Gillespie. Or Miles Davis given the trumpeter’s tone. It is a lively, concise set of performances coming in at just under 30 minutes’ playing time.

Discography
The Collection; Al A Parker; Unprescribed Playfulness; Mind Block; Stella By Artois; Winter Pace; Get Al In Town (57.57)
Allan Claret (elg); Evan Clegg (t, flh); Duncan Eagles (ts); Luke Fowler (b); Kuba Miazga (d). 3 December 2019. No location listed, but England, probably London.
Elsden Music EM 01