A Magic Life

Alison Rayner leads ARQ (2016)

‘A set of pieces inspired by real-world ideas, people and situations but infused with the kind of heady imagination that transforms their resonances into a series of vivacious musical adventures.’
Roger Thomas, BBC Music Magazine ***** Jan 2017

BTF1613CD Distributed by Proper Music
Recorded in Livingston Studio 1 London, Summer 2016 by Chris Lewis
Release Date 18 November 2016

Album production supported by the Arts Council’s Grants For The Arts scheme.

Steve Lodder piano
Deirdre Cartwright guitar
Diane McLoughlin tenor, soprano saxophones
Alison Rayner bass
Buster Birch drums

Track Listing

1.
A Magic Life
2.
Musicophilia
3.
The Trunk Call
4.
Mayday

Album Reviews

‘Highly intelligible music, characterized by individuality, spirit and a sense of freedom’ 

‘Playing bass with a big, beautiful bass sound that comes from the heart, Alison Rayner leads a team of intelligent, responsive musicians through these original compositions. Highly intelligible music, characterized by individuality, spirit and a sense of freedom.’

 Val Wilmer, author, As Serious As Your Life: the Story of the New Jazz

ARQ: Val Wilmer

‘A gorgeous album synthesising mood, melody and the interplay between musicians totally at home with each other.’ Jazz wise **** Nov 2016

‘Is music stronger than magic, a young boy asked Alison Rayner? And here’s one answer: a gorgeous album synthesising mood, melody and the interplay between musicians totally at home with each other. Not that ‘A Magic Life’ is complacent or cosy; Lodder’s keys always challenge, Cartwright remains that most chameleon of players, able to summon the spirit of others while retaining her own voice, and McLoughlin can mix a keening tone with a melodic sweetness. It’s all there, even in the apparently throwaway fun of ‘The Trunk Call’ that sashays between a bluesy theme, a dub ska breakout and a South Indian theme like it’s the most obvious of musical conversations, which, obviously, it ain’t. Beneath it all Rayner is dark and sonorous, like a Haden or Weber, able to make a rounded single note underwrite the band’s soarings, never more so than on the blues of ‘Swanage Bay’, which mixes memory, loss and love into a heady serenade. Occasionally the Arts Council gets it right, and this project fully deserves such support.’

Andy Robson, Jazzwise November 2016

ARQ Jazzwise ****

‘A set of pieces inspired by real-world ideas, people and situations but infused with the kind of heady imagination that transforms their resonances into a series of vivacious musical adventures.’

Roger Thomas, BBC Music Magazine, Jan 2017 ***** 

ARQ ***** BBC Music Magazine

‘Purposeful, full-toned and melodic… a beautifully integrated band’ **** The Sunday Observer Nov 2016

‘Purposeful, full-toned and melodic – those are the qualities of Alison Rayner’s music, in her roles as both bass player and composer. Jazz today takes so many forms, and incorporates so many diverse influence, that it takes a strong musical voice, such as Rayner’s, to stand out clearly amid the surrounding din. She has a beautifully integrated band too. The whole thing has that loose feeling which is the mark of musicians who have been working together for some time. The bright, fibrous sound of Diane McLoughlin’s soprano saxophone is a particular delight, and the wild guitar and piano interplay between Deirdre Cartwright and Steve Lodder in Mayday is one of the set’s many highlights.’

Dave Gelly, Sunday Observer Nov 2016

ARQ ****The Observer 2016

‘Spirited, eloquent and graceful’ ***

The Guardian Nov 2016

‘British bassist and composer Alison Rayner’s 2014 debut album, August, was an expected reminder of her warmth and alertness as an ensemble player, but also the unexpected emergence of a vivid new compositional voice. A Magic Life retains the same fine band (Diane McLoughlin on saxophones, Deirdre Cartwright on guitar, Steve Lodder on keys and Buster Birch on drums), and a similarly open and accessible mix of jazz, folk and classical ingredients. Celtic, eastern European, jazz-funk and swing rhythms variously drive the music, with a spirited folk dance shared by soprano saxophone and guitar immediately spurring Lodder’s fluid eloquence and a snaking sax break on the opening title track, Cartwright bursting into rockish guitar distort on the funky, handclapping Mayday, McLoughlin smoky on tenor in the lilting ballad New Day, and exhibiting a gracefully languid old-school swing on the instrument in the emphatic, riffy OK Chorale. A Magic Life may be stylistically diverse, but Rayner’s themes are united by the inviting impression that many could have been written to be sung.’
John Fordham, The Guardian Nov 2016

ARQ The Guardian 2016

An album of unified musical dexterity, with not a note wasted and with sound as story – clear and undisguised, deeply affecting and unashamedly open”

Chris Searle, Morning Star, March 2017

ARQ Morning Star March 2017

ALBUM OF THE WEEK ‘This captivating recording…individuality and originality brings such freshness to the pieces…’

Chris Baber, Jazzviews

JazzViews Album of the Week

‘In a Jazz age with an abundance of technical excellence – and ARQ have it in great quantity – we look for something else as well. ARQ bring to the stage a musical bond that is expressed in such fun and joyful moments that it is a pleasure to be in the room with them. Jazz of the highest quality.’

ARQ: Phil Rose, Birmingham Jazz

‘A master-class in empathetic playing with superb solos and a rhythm section of the highest calibre. Don’t miss these virtuoso musicians when they come to town.’

ARQ: Phil Webb, Restormel Arts, Cornwall