Steppin’ Out

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: Big Bear
WORKS: jazz
PERFORMER: Bruce Adams/Alan Barnes QuintetAdams (tpt, flug); Alan Barnes (as, bar-s); Brian Dee (p); Len Skeat (b); Bobby Orr (d)
CATALOGUE NO: CD 38

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This recording, hailed as a perfect antidote to the calculated fashion-consciousness of much contemporary jazz, features two imaginative soloists in spirited, often virtuosic renditions of music ranging from mainstream classics through bop and hard-bop standards to sparky originals.

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Saxophonist Alan Barnes is one of Britain’s most gifted players, whether on alto – slipping eel-like through murderously quick bop changes or producing Art Pepper-like intensity in a ballad – or on baritone, where he eschews the bustle and swagger often associated with the instrument in favour of a warm, subtly understated sound. He finds a perfect foil in Bruce Adams, hitherto inexplicably unheralded, given the pure flair of his tone, his dexterity and crackling brilliance. The result demonstrates that the avant-garde is by no means the only location for supremely exciting, inventive jazz. Chris Parker