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Justin Quinn's Bakehouse Before I Forget Review

Album. Released 2005.  

BBC Review

More from the ubiquitous F-ire collective, with guitarist Quinn's debut as leader.

John Eyles 2005

These days, it seems as if every other jazz gig in London is connected with the F-IRE Collective. Winner of the 2004 award for innovation in the BBC Jazz Awards, the collective is a loose alliance of upwards of fifty young musicians, dancers and visual artists who have banded together to give mutual support and co-ordination to their activities.

Justin Quinn is one of the collective's core members, and this debut album is the sixth release on the collective's fledgling label. Originally from New York, where he studied guitar with Pat Martino, Quinn is now resident in London.

Quinn's Bakehouse is a new quintet, completed by trumpet, alto sax, bass and drums. Their music is low-key and melodic, with the material consisting entirely of Quinn compositions. Quinn's guitar sets the tone throughout; he is just as likely to fade in a well-chosen chord as to let rip with a solo.

Similarly, Tom Arthurs on trumpet & flugelhorn, and Carlos Lopez-Real on alto sax, are used for coloration far more often that they are given the spotlight. This is a pity as when they do get to solo - notably Lopez-Real on the opener, "Neck" - they hint that they could set the pulses racing. But that's clearly not the intention; understatement is the watchword. Too frequently, the musicsounds like backing tracks awaiting a great soloist to step forward; too infrequently one does.

"Deconstruction on your Head" is the most energetic of Quinn's pieces. Arthurs, the least laid back of the bunch, briefly threatens to turn it into a blowing session, but only briefly; after his contribution the temperature soon drops down to cool again. Oddly, 'Bakehouse' and 'F-IRE' both raise expectations of heat and sweat, whereas - on this evidence - nothing could be further from the truth. This is some of the most polite, urbane jazz I have heard for ages. Chill-out jazz; very listenable, but all too easy to drift away from.

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