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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove



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JOHN HALLAM and
JEFF BARNHART

Alone Together

LAKE LACD272

 

 

  1. Way Down Yonder
  2. Just You, Just Me
  3. Alone Together
  4. I've Got A Feeling I'm Falling
  5. Waltzing Matilda
  6. Black Butterfly
  7. Doin' The New Lowdown
  8. Burgundy St. Blues
  9. It's You Or No-One
  10. Kiss To Build A Dream On
  11. Beautiful Friendship
  12. How Deep Is The Ocean?
  13. Sugar
  14. All My Tomorrows
  15. I Found A New Baby

John Hallam (clarinet, tenor and baritone saxophones) and Jeff Barnhart (piano and vocals)
rec. Theatre Royal, Workington, September 2008 [78:50]

Two of Lake's house stars John Hallam and Jeff Barnhart join forces in this duo album, as they have done before. Ever-insightful sleeve note writer Ralph Laing speculates on past reed-and-piano duos on record, mentioning Volly de Faut and Jelly Roll Morton as well as Coleman Hawkins and Buck Washington. Sidney Bechet and Martial Solal also come to my mind amongst select others. Though Hallam doubles on saxophones (tenor and baritone) he's most formidably equipped in my view as a clarinettist of great fluency and articulacy. Barnhart is a Stride specialist, deeply immersed in Waller and James P. Johnson. Together they make an invigorating team.

With Hallam switching between his instruments songs never lack for timbral contrast. Just You, Just Me for instance has richly voiced piano playing and successive solos by Hallam on clarinet and baritone. There's a Spanish Tinge to this one rhythmically. I'm glad to note that the title track is so well done - Barnhart sounding slightly like Dick Hyman, commanding lyricism and rhythm to the fore. I've Got A Feeling I'm Falling is, naturally, a vehicle for the Waller-leaning Barnhart and Hallam's clarinet is limited more to decorative pastures.

Waltzing Matilda might seem an unlikely vehicle but when it's swung up tempo it goes nicely and becomes something of a Stride vehicle. I tend to associate Doin' The New Lowdown with Marty Grosz's vocal stints with the much lamented Soprano Summit whilst Burgundy St. Blues is - of course - a heartfelt but not lachrymose tribute to the shade of George Lewis. Barnhart is an accomplished singer within his compass and he takes a warm vocal on Kiss To Build A Dream On and displays much the same kind of warmth as Hallam does in his sympathetic, wistful and reflective tenor solo on How Deep Is The Ocean? All My Tomorrows receives an almost quasi-classical workout, romantic and highly persuasive evidence of the creativity that can go into this repertoire and this kind of ensemble. And finally there's a swinger - I Found A New Baby - Harlem Striding, plenty of tension and release here.

This is an album packed with thought and brio, finely recorded and played with stylish affection.


Jonathan Woolf 



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