BBC Online – September 2007
Guitarists have egos. So jazz groups led by guitarists can be, well… egotistical. Thankfully Jack Hues of new British jazz four piece The-Quartet knows you get better results through cooperation than competition. He’s more interested in tone, melody and texture than showing off. His lead lines flow naturally out of the compositions, so you don’t think he’s taking a solo, rather adding another theme. Even when he switches on the wah-wah pedal, which in the wrong hands has been known to wreak havoc, the results are impeccably tasteful. So although John writes all the material on The-Quartet’s debut album, and co leads it with pianist Sam Bailey, this is very much a group effort, with a group sound.
It’s an uncluttered sound with lots of room and space, which makes this album very pleasing to the ear. There’s space too for the guest players Paul Booth on tenor sax and Charlie Brown on violin to have maximum impact.
Any record which features hand claps automatically gets a big tick from me. And hand claps drive both the opening track “Magnolia Heights” and later “Brahms Blues”. The spirit of Miles’ “In A Silent Way” is very evident throughout, but particularly on “Magnolia Heights”, where a driving, simple, light as air pulse propels a tricky, stop start riff along in a thoroughly delightful way. Subtle electronic dubby effects and overtones add a further dimension to the brooding funkiness of “Brahms Blues”.
“Fallujah” is reflective and sombre with a poignant sax contribution from Paul Booth, who is also outstanding on the edgy space blues of “Miles Off”. The odd track out is the final “Nervous?” a routine piece of up-tempo post bop trickery.
This album has many virtues including taste, sincerity, subtlety and brevity. It’s a relief to hear something that at six tracks long doesn’t outstay its welcome. And while it left me hankering a little after something rougher, it’s a very pleasant and a very musical listen. – Nick Reynolds
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