Allison Neale ‘Quietly There’ CD (Ubuntu Music) 4/5

In an era where jazz that doesn’t necessarily ‘push the boundaries’ is sometimes easily overlooked, it’s strangely refreshing to listen to an ‘old-school’ jazz record that’s straight-ahead, no-nonsense, and performed with such an understated skill. The aptly titled “Quietly There”, the latest release from Seattle born saxophonist Allison Neale, evokes the spirit of Paul Desmond, Art Pepper and Stan Getz, effortlessly capturing the feel and vibe of a bygone era.

This is Neale’s fifth album and features the renowned NYC guitarist Peter Bernstein, along with bassist Dave Green and drummer Steve Brown. Taking its title from a song by the late Johnny Mandel, “Quietly There” also features rarely performed tunes from The Great American Songbook and compositions by guitarist Jimmy Raney and pianist Horace Silver.

Despite the fact that this quartet are drawing largely on older material, it is pleasingly apparent that they appear to have forged an extremely warm and likeable identity of their own. There’s a lovely, natural feel to this recording that I like very much. Especially noticeable is the connection between Neale and guitarist Bernstein. Their intuitive musical relationship is clear for all to hear, with guitar and sax complementing one another with a charming grace and fluency.

Highlights include the infectious “Darn That Dream”, an extremely catchy “Split Kick”, the delightfully soft and engaging ballad “I’m Glad There Is You”, the classy and cool “Spring Is Here”, and the gorgeous “I Should Care”. Whilst the music throughout this album is quietly understated, one can still fully appreciate the skill of the soloing and the wonderful group interaction. There’s a clarity to the whole session that makes for easy, comforting listening.

Mike Gates