Alison Rayner Quintet, Hen and Chicken, Sunday 26th October

Alison Rayner and Deidre Cartwright formed the London based club night/ artist collective/ promoter Blow the Fuse 25 years ago this year and the occasion seems to have prompted a burst of creative activity, not least this project under bass player Rayner’s own name with the CD August just released (can it really be her first under her name?).  The tour landed at the Hen and Chicken on Sunday, after a Saturday outing in Brighton – some photos here.  They brought a collection of grooves and foot – tapping stompers giving a glimpse of the musical passions of forty years of music making. There’s plenty of jazz in there but 70s funk is never far away, laced through with latin, afro-beats and a few hints at dub and reggae.  They started the evening with no funk holds barred Hyperbubble and the band going full throttle. Long time partners Deidre Cartwright on guitar and Diane McClouglin on tenor were surfing the effortless groove whipped up by Rayner locked tight with Buster Birch on drums.  It didn’t take long for mooods to shift .  Elegy for Art had the hymn like quality its title suggests and behind the lovely tune the ears were snagged by pianist Steve Lodder‘s fluent lyricism. A familiar face in Bristol form a previous lengthy association with Andy Sheppard,  Lodder was a constant creative spark, his soloing growing progressively more incendiary as the evening wore on.  By the time we’d got to the the samba-ish Half a world away in the second set he was  flying.  There’d been another evocative diversion through the moody CD title track August  the bass lending a strong melodic thread. It wasn’t long before the wick was turned up again however.  This was an entertaining, engaging evening, showcasing Rayner’s varied writing and influences, but with a strong group sound and an instinct for a groove that’s hard to resist.


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