Nigel Price and Alban Claret: Entente Cordiale

In a set of full-fat archtop swing and bebop two Englishmen, a Frenchman and an Italian make their contribution to European unity


On some jazz-guitar duet albums the listener is given the position – left or right speaker – of the guitarists. On Entente Cordiale there is no such detail, but it’s not really necessary such is the distinctive style of Nigel Price, undoubtedly one of Britain’s best guitarists.

Price’s solos are lightning-fast affairs taking in blues licks and rockabilly-like skirmishes and can even be fairly compared to pre-vocalising George Benson or, when deploying octaves, with his hero Wes Montgomery. Price has appeared on over 50 albums, including seven under his own name. He tours frequently, and is a regular performer at Ronnie Scott’s and has taught at The International Guitar Foundation at King’s Place, London.

His partner on this record is the French guitar-prodigy, Alban Claret. He took up the guitar aged eight and subsequently studied at the musicology faculty at the Montpellier conservatoire, the jazz department of the Perpignan conservatoire under the tutorship of Serge Lazarevitch and the jazz department at the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague. In 2017 he moved to London to become a full-time musician. Claret, whilst not quite possessing the attack of Price, is no slouch. With his warm-toned archtop guitar he matches Price with precisely arranged, tasteful solos – as heard, for example, on Clare Fischer’s Latin-tinged Pensativa.

The guitarists are joined here by Italian-born, London-based bassist Mikele Montolli and in-demand drummer Matt Fishwick. The album comprises 10 standards that positively inspire this straight-ahead swinging quartet. From the fast-paced opener, Sam Jones’ Bittersuite, the two guitarists play the heads in such precise lockstep that the result could easily be interpreted as one guitarist double tracked. Not all the numbers are so frantic; Charles Mingus’s ballad Self Portrait In Three Colours is afforded an elegant reading as is Bill Evans’ lovely Time Remembered.

Bittersuite; Silver’s Serenade; The Moontrane; Simone; Self Portrait In Three Colours; Blues For Herb; Time Remembered; I’m Old Fashioned; This Is New; Pensativa (61.56)
Price, Claret (elg); Mikele Montolli (b); Matt Fishwick (d). London, March 2022.
Elsden Music EM 05