Brandon Allan – Stanley Turrentine Project, Bristol Beacon, Friday 11th March

The first of a season of gigs at the Bristol Beacon promoted by the inimitable Ian Storrer saw Brandon Allan blow into town with his band, the Stanley Turrentine Project, and oh my, blow they did.

Allan has concentrated on sax legend Turrentine’s repertoire from his recordings with Blue Note alongside a few readings of rock and pop tunes. Celebrating Turrentine is to dive into the swinging grooves and blues and gospel tinged cadences of hard bop and the classic Blue Note era sound, and Allan’s quartet didn’t hold back. What really made this a thrilling, blowing-the-winter-blues-away gig was the quality of the band.

They launched into a version of Can’t Buy Me Love, transformed with a driving, propulsive groove, to kick proceedings off. Will Barry at the piano, Conor Chaplin on the bass and Dave Ingermells behind the kit, combined to create a casually, irresistible, springy beat. Barry let rip with a solo, making it clear to anyone

who didn’t know, why he has a burgeoning reputation; a feel for where notes sit against the pulse for maximum sense of energy and momentum, and a crispness and clarity of lines at any tempo combined to create an excitement and anticipation almost whenever space cleared for a solo. Allan himself was on blistering form. He’s an all round player with a big fat tenor sound when its needed, but there were plenty of glimpses of tenderness and nuance throughout the evening with breathy, high register flurries or a more astringent lamenting tone on some of the more burning pieces.

There was some artful arranging of these pieces for quartet. You’re Going To Hear From Me conjured the sense of a big band chart with harmonised backing from piano block chords, even a shout chorus with sax mixing it with Barry’s locked hands, and more incendiary blowing all round. There was an excursion through full throated gospel on What Could I Do Without You, light funk on Little Green Apples and bustling bossa on Ivan Lins’ The Island. A standout moment for these ears was their take on Fool On The Hill, a breezy waltz feel flicking the curtain back on emotional depth from Allan with a more anguished tone, and then the vibe switching to a rocky pulse and full throated tenor solo over a Rhodes sound, before Barry,

back on piano, cast liquid reveries over the waltz feel.

This is a top quality band. Conor Chaplin is achieving a degree of ubiquity in touring bands with a dizzying range of styles, and he looked completely at home in this setting as well with plenty of punchy, well crafted solos on the high energy numbers. Dave Ingermells had every rhythmic feint and kick covered. The dust was well and truly dislodged by the time they rocked out on Mississippi City Strut to wrap up a thoroughly entertaining evening.

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