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Updated: Oct 9, 2023

Playing a mixture of free jazz and more conventional post-bop jazz, Charlotte Keeffe has developed into one of Britain’s top trumpeters and flugelhorn players. This is her second CD for the Discus label and she is accompanied by Moss Freed on electric guitar, Ashley John Long on double bass and Ben Handysides on drums.

There is one thing about Charlotte, she doesn’t take herself too seriously, and is honest in describing the music as ‘messy’, using an abundance of alliterative adjectives to make the point e.g. squelchy, sploshy (I haven’t heard those applied to Jazz before!), squeaking, squealing, howling, hooting – you got it, she loves to experiment.

Perhaps there is a little too much that is free about it for most tastes, but I particularly enjoyed the playfulness of ‘1200 Photographs 3’ where the guitarist (as elsewhere) seems to channel his inner John McLaughlin. Of course, the melodies are all the more impactful when they appear, as on ‘A Horse Named Galaxy’, an articulate, accessible new post-bop classic to my ears with fluid bass, the guitar busily picking out the theme and soloing nicely. ‘Sweet, Corn’ is another case in point, the seeds of another very strong post-bop piece falling apart only to reassemble itself; it is ingenuously executed. The album is worth a listen even for these three pieces alone. I thought I would like ‘Brentford’ being the name of my favourite English football team (it has a pretty tune, vocalised at the end by the band, sounding more African than West London) NB I’ve supported them since a boy for the obscurest of reasons, too complicated to relate here - a bit like the music, I suppose, but I do enjoy a bit of a challenge and “Alive in the Studio!” certainly shook me out of my lethargy. I suspect I shall be returning to it soon to uncover some more gems.

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