Alison Rayner leads ARQ

A winner of the Jazz Services Recording Subsidy Award for 2013, bass player and composer Alison Rayner leads the contemporary jazz quintet ARQ.

Her album ‘August’ was released in July 2014.

Original compositions draw on a love for lyrical melodies, deep grooves and influences from folk, funk and Latin.

Diane McLoughlin saxophone, Deirdre Cartwright guitar, Steve Lodder piano, Buster Birch drums.

August could hardly represent a sharper reminder to the British jazz world of the breadth and depth of Alison Rayner’s often unsung talents. It’s taken a while for Alison Rayner the composer to step all the way out of the shadows. But on the strength of this fine album, she might have to get used to the spotlight”.

John Fordham May 2014 



The group’s tight and assured playing are superbly suited to play Rayner’s compositions, her thoughtful and melodic soloing being a particular highlight. The debut album couldn’t be stronger”

LondonJazzNews October 2014

Deliciously upbeat, groovy and thoughtful jazz…the recent album August shows her to be a superb composer to boot… a perfect showcase of Rayner’s diverse talents”

Jazz UK October 2014

‘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

‘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

‘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 ****