QCBA ‘Beauty In Quiet Places’ (Ubuntu Music) 4/5

QCBAQCBA is a hard bop jazz quartet fronted by trumpeter Quentin Collins and tenor saxophonist Brandon Allen. They are joined by Ross Stanley on Hammond and Enzo Zirilli on drums, all of which have worked together since 2008. “Beauty in quiet places” consists of original material written by Collins and Allen that provides a fresh take on the hard bop formula, mixing in some Latin flavours with blues, soul, swing and deep grooves along the way. The band provides the listener with a dazzling array of solos from all four musicians involved, especially the two leaders. Although it doesn’t stray too far from the tried and tested path, this a tightly knit quartet that seem to know exactly what they want to do, and achieve it in style.
Collins and Allen have been performing together for over 15 years now, and it shows. There’s a natural intuition between the two horn players that is quite obvious when listening to their music. From a background of playing together in horn sections for various bands, after a few years they decided to put their own band together, taking the initials from their names as the band name. Allen had worked previously with organist Ross Stanley and with their musical kinship it was an easy choice to draft Stanley into this band. 2011 saw the release of their debut album “What’s it gonna be”, with a European tour allowing them to hone their new material and continue writing whilst touring. Much of their music was thus recorded in a studio setting whilst the band were still on the road, this perhaps being the reason that that “Beauty in quiet places” benefits from a cool vibe that sounds as if the band are enjoying playing in front of an audience, despite the studio setting; and the album is all the better for it, catching the essence and vitality of the music itself.

Collins and Allen both perform in Kyle Eastwood‘s band and it is the bassist who provides the insightful liner notes on the album sleeve. He sums up the music on this album perfectly by saying: “From the up tempo flavour of ‘Tuerteventura’ through the foot stomping ‘Handshake’ to the full on workout of ‘Modal Tranesition’ the listener is instantly gripped by QCBA’s original and thrilling slant on the Post-Bop tradition. The entire band demonstrates great intuition and chemistry. ‘Oscar’s Lullaby’ shows the softer side of the quartet. It has quite a lyrical and memorable melody, with a spotlight on Brandon playing his soprano. A personal favourite is the title track which has an irresistible lilting back beat, tight group interplay and strong solos all round.” The contemporary feel to the band’s music is obviously routed in the Blue Note era of jazz, and successfully marries that retro feel with a modern-day effusive twist. It’s great to hear some good, honest horn blowing from a quartet that will surely continue to develop and sparkle in the coming years.

I’ll let trumpeter Quentin Collins round things off; “Our aim is to tour early to mid Spring 2016, and to get the music on the road to as many places as we can. And to spread the word that there is a gunslinging horn section still on the scene.”

Mike Gates