The Best In British Jazz

Blessing in Disguise

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Recorded Eastcote Studios, West London 2006

Blessing in Disguise

Alan Barnes

  1. 1. Monk's Dream (Monk) listen
  2. 2. Pannonica (Monk) listen
  3. 3. Blessing In Disguise (Rollins) listen
  4. 4. Child Is Born (Jones) listen
  5. 5. Little Rootie Tootie (Monk) listen
  6. 6. Day Dream (Strayhorn) listen
  7. 7. Reflections (Monk) listen
  8. 8. Lisa (Feldman) listen
  9. 9. Way To Go Out (Urso) listen


I've spent a good deal of the last few years writing and arranging for various size groups so, for this recording of my new quartet, I wanted to get as far away from that approach as possible. Apart from booking the studio and the musicians, nothing was planned I just called a bunch of tunes on the day and it was more or less first takes all the way with no edits. Spike, John and Andy came up with the magic as they always do, and five hours later we had this CD under our belt. Here's what happened....


You might expect something that closely mirrors classic old jazz recordings from an ostensibly orthodox reeds virtuoso like Alan Barnes. But this set has a sparkle that makes it much more than genuflection to the jazz past, even though the material was written by the great and good.

Barnes's baritone sax swerves between the elegance of a 1930s swinger and Charlie Parker's double-time flights on Thelonious Monk's Pannonical; his alto spirals off into free-jazz on the gritty Sonny Rollins title track; his clarinet has a songlike purity on an almost classical account of A Child Is Born. Monk's Little Rootie Tootie delivers the peremptory accents with a punch that makes you jump, before Barnes's baritone muscles in. Billy Strayhorn's Day Dream is sublime, and Victor Feldman's Lisa is a hurtling swinger into which Barnes fits impossible-sounding turns and swerves.

Another great makeover of the straightahead jazzer's art.

John Fordham - The Guardian

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