The Observer

memories brought to life

I think I could spot a piece by Alison Rayner among a mixed bag of contemporary British jazz composer, not by any mannerisms of style, but because her whole approach is so brisk and clear. This is certainly true of the music played by her quintet. The band have been together for about five years now, a long time for the hectic London scene, and have developed their own recognisable personality. This is their third, and aptly titled, album.

The eight musical short stories – five by Rayner and one each by saxophonist Diane McLoughlin, guitarist Deirdre Cartwright and pianist Steve Lodder – all concern memories of people or places. A few brief lines in the album notes set the scene, and each sound-picture is brought deftly to life. Two I particularly admired were A Braw Boy, suggesting the open sea and big skies, featuring piano and soprano saxophone, and Croajingolong Bushwalk, with some neat percussion from Buster Birch. Alison Rayner is the band’s bassist, and for some reason bass-playing jazz composers (Charles Mingus and Charlie Haden, for instance) seem particularly good at conjuring scenes and atmospheres.

****  Dave Gelly, The Observer Sat 30 Nov 2019