Reviews of Jazzelation
12/10/2010 Paul Medley
Jazzelation: The Spin, Oxford (From The Oxford Times)When It Happens Panel Get
Jazzelation: The Spin, Oxford
12:21pm Monday 11th October 2010
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Though missing trumpet and percussion, Jazzelation at the Spin last Thursday
gave an exuberant taste of their debut CD. The music, all written and arranged
by Oxford guitarist and band leader Kevin Armstrong, was performed with relaxed
assurance. With a rich blend of 60s soul and gospel music Armstrong has created
jazz with an emotional but positive feel that plays equally to the strengths of
vocalist Alison Bentley and to the rest of the band.
This is music that
contrasts with the often highly complex compositions coming out of the jazz
colleges today or the inevitably somewhat egocentric effect of a quest soloist
with the house band, though both these have their attractions.
Apart from the clear professionalism in the whole band, one of the great
strengths of Jazzelation is the close and democratic interplay between the front
line soloists. There is never the feeling that Alison Bentley is merely
supported by the other soloists. This musical equilibrium, particularly between
sax and vocals where the powerful depths and rhythmic stride of Bentley’s voice
is matched and paired by the eloquent and responsive playing of Andor Jensen on
tenor, gives the band a cohesive sound that is not easy to attain.
In the beautiful ballad, Spring is such a beautiful thing, the first solo was passed to
the ever powerful bass playing of Raf Mizraki before being taken up by sax and
back to vocals, a simple, but effective alteration to expectations. Armstrong,
with the modesty of a true band leader, kept more in the background until in
Kurt Weill’s instrumental Speak Low he let rip with a guitar solo of sharp
intensity. Meanwhile Pete Whittaker instrumental in pushing and driving on
Hammond organ had his moment to pull out all the stops on the outright spiritual
Shining Down while Paul Cavaciuti on drums was restrained and precise.
Although Jazzelation make no pretensions to be breaking new ground they
nevertheless injects soul, spirituals and blues with a new dimension of
intelligence. While the songs are superbly coloured and projected by Alison
Bentley’s voice the band’s success also depends on the strengths of the
compositions and the panache of the players.
01/08/2009 Derek Ansell, Jazz Journal
“…inspired by a love of 1960s soul and gospel music, high-lighting Alison Bentley’s clear and attractive voice and interspersed with tasty trumpet and tenor solos…”
02/05/2009 Seb Scotney, LondonJazz
“Alison Bentley goes up through the gears and finds real energy…impeccable…choc-full of irrepressible hope and optimism”
20/04/2009 Tony Augarde, Crescendo Magazine
“Music that skilfully blends jazz with soulful elements…
Alison Bentley presents songs with feeling and understanding…impressive guitar & organ solos…This is a promising debut album and the group should go from strength to strength…”
14/03/2009 Paul Jefferies, director of Oxford Jazz Festival
"...an uplifting musical journey..."
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