Reviewers need to give some context and references for readers to understand through words what the music sounds like. This Canadian quartet consists of Lina Allemano on trumpet, Brodie West on alto saxophone, Andrew Downing on double bass, and Nick Fraser on drums. This "Ornette Coleman quartet" line-up says something about the band's roots, but then again not enough. The band indeed cherishes melody and rhythm, as the basis to start form, opening the compositions wide for further explorations, but never too far.
I'd been thinking at times about other modern OC quartets such as the Empty Cage Quartet, or Ideal Bread, yet these comparisons fail too. They don't have the broad aspirations of the former, nor the specific focus of the latter, ... or the Nordic IPA, with Magnus Broo, ... and no, that's not it either. It all sounds so familiar, so accessible though, so recognizable in a way, but then it is not. It's all so different too. Open themes, unison beginnings, and then playful explorations, sometimes soloing, sometimes layering the solos, but always lyrical, always contained, always playful, always joyful. And that's possibly the quartet's major strength : they really enjoy what they do. Or let me put it differently, the quality of the compositions invite the musicians to enjoy themselves, and the audience as a result, as you can experience from this live recording.
It is not expansive, nor is it intimate either. It is not loud and not quiet. It is absolutely not mainstream, but it is also not really free either. You get the feeling. It is lyrical with an edge, abstract lyricism if you want, for lack of a better word. But then that is not right either. It's far too emotional to be called abstract.
Sorry, I give up. It's too hard to describe. Lina Allemano and her band have created an eclectic sound that makes its own synthesis of tradition and avant-garde, of structure and freedom, of clever composition and emotional depth, of abstraction and warmth. It is not spectacular, it is just beautiful and moving and fun. And that's a lot.
Watch a video excerpt from the album
You can buy the album from instantjazz.com.