Recital Room, City Halls, 24th February 2007

Part of Jazz from Sweden

It was Brian Kellock and Jan Allan who were billed as joint leaders of this quartet, but Danish guitarist Jakob Fischer was every bit their equal. Bassist Kenny Ellis was his usual dependable self.

Bands which include a pianist and a guitarist don’t always work, as the two chording instruments sometimes get in each other’s way. There were no such problems here. One of Brian Kellock’s great virtues as a player is that as well as being a virtuoso soloist, he’s a first-rate accompanist. When someone else is soloing, he can be relied on to play something subtle but interesting behind them, without either steamrollering over them in the way players like Art Tatum were sometimes guilty of or falling back on basic comping. The same goes for Fischer. Both men were capable of playing lots of notes in a very short time when they wanted to, but were also capable of great delicacy, and never let empty virtuosity take over from true musicianship.

Veteran Swedish trumpeter Jan Allan played some nice stuff too, although I got the impression he would have been even better a few years back. He was a very breathy player, with not all of his blowing going into the trumpet mouthpiece, and I couldn’t help feeling this was as much down to age (he’s over 70) as to an attempt to sound like a trumpet-playing version of late Ben Webster. Again, though, the important thing about his playing was that he was very musical.

Most of the material was standards, with a couple of tunes by Lennie Tristano and Swede Lasse Gullin (not the same guy as Lars Gullin) thrown in. Overall, a night of fine swinging mainstream jazz.

Allan and Fischer can be heard playing much of the same material on the CD West of the Moon by Danish alto player Christina von Bülow: well worth checking out if this is the sort of jazz you like.