Album reviews

Shannon Barnett Quartet – ‘Alive at Loft’

Shannon Barnett Quartet – Alive at Loft
(KLAENG Records 077 CD
. Album review by Tony Dudley-Evans)

Shannon Barnett is a trombone player, originally from Melbourne, Australia, who after a period studying and playing in the USA, moved in 2014 to Cologne to join the trombone section of the WDR Big Band, in which she stayed until 2018. She also formed a regular working quartet with Cologne-based musicians, which has recorded a number of albums since 2016. In 2019 Barnett was appointed as Professor of Trombone at the Cologne Hochschule für Musik und Tanz.

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The quartet’s latest album was recorded at the excellent Loft club in Cologne during a week during which three bands a night were invited by Pablo Held to interpret their favourite standards. Barnett made a very interesting selection: two well known standards in “Weaver Of Dreams” and “Alone Together”, but also Ornette Coleman’s “When Will The Blues Leave?”, Bryan Adams’ “Heaven” and Roberta Flack’s “Ballad Of The Sad Young Men”. There is also a track named “Hypochrismutreefuzz”, presumably taken from the repertoire of the LA-based noise rock duo of the same name

In the liner notes Barnett talks of her hesitation about accepting the invitation in view of her group’s commitment to playing original material with a degree of openness. On the first two tracks, Ornette’s “When Will The Blues Leave?” and “Weaver of Dreams” the approach is fairly straightahead, but the solos from Barnett and Stefan Karl Schmid on tenor saxophone develop strong logical lines with interesting twists and changes of direction. The interpretation of the standards becomes free-er thereafter; on Alone Together Barnett begins playing over the bass of David Helm before the drums of Fabian Arends come in, and develops a fairly free solo without going totally ‘out’. “Hypochrismutreefuzz” is an upbeat track which again lends itself to some open playing. “Heaven”, by contrast, features more straightahead lyrical playing. Roberta Flack’s “Ballad Of The Sad Young Men” features a vocal from Barnett accompanied by guest guitarist Ella Zirina.

Shannon Barnett leads a fine quartet whose continuance with the same personnel has enabled it to develop and build over the last few years. On this CD they respond well to the challenge of interpreting material other than than their normal repertoire, and the result is an engaging CD that is an indication of the strength of the Cologne jazz scene.

LINKS: Interview with Shannon Barnett for IWD from 2017

Alive at Loft at KLAENG Records

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