This is a first-rate album that will delight anyone that likes their jazz to swing and be intensely melodic, played by three master musicians who clearly enjoy making music together.

Ubuntu Music UBU0151

Riley Stone-Lonergan (tenor saxophone); Eddie Myer (double bass); Spike Wells (drums)

The QOW Trio impressed greatly with their debut album released on the enterprising Ubuntu imprint. Now a few years on and considerably more gigs under their belt the band sound better than ever, and this new album is a real blast from beginning to end.

Listening to The Hold Up for the first time immediately reminded me why I love jazz so much. The music swings hard, is full of surprises and personality and is the result of a collective group of musicians playing for each other and the music.

As with all good jazz, the music sounds timeless. Even the original compositions by Stone-Lonergan swing in a manner that can easily trick the ear into believing that the tunes are old friends, and they also fit perfectly with the other compositions to form a cohesive and satisfying whole.

The QOW Trio are so confident in the group sound and identity that has developed that they have no fear in declaring their influences. The music is steeped the classic tenor-bass-drums line up favoured by Sonny Rollins, and if the weight of the tradition is heavy the Trio carry it with ease.

Always seeking to go that extra mile, no one can accuse the QOW Trio of being a polite band, the music is packed with incident and exhilarating playing from all. From the opening bars of Stone-Lonergan’s ‘High Noon’ the trio grab the attention.

The robust sound of the tenor saxophone, the propulsive and intensely musical drumming of Spike Wells, and Eddie Myer’s bass that is superbly captured by Benedic Lambin, makes for a potent combination.

If ‘High Noon’ pushes at the edge a little in Riley’s tenor solo, a touch of Coltrane is discernible, the title track is a delightfully swinging affair that has some fine contributions from Wells who has the panache to push the band hard yet gives the impression that nothing is ever rushed. His touches and commentary are a joy throughout.

The saxophonist reigns in his full toned and weighty tenor sound for a fine reading of the Ellington/Strayhorn ballad ‘The Starcrossed Lovers’ and also on the brief and very moving and poignant ‘Hard Times Come Again No More’.

Too irrepressible to be held back for long the trio strut their stuff in an infectious ‘Along came John’ with a bass line to die for, and a thoughtful run through Lee Morgan’s ‘Our Man Higgins’ that Spike Wells obviously relishes with his powerhouse performance.

With an intense investigation of Monk’s ‘Bright Mississippi’ that appears to hold no terrors for the Trio they have the audacity in rounding out the set to play Rollins at his own game with a sparkling and inventive take on ‘I’m Old Qowhand’ (although I’m not sure what composer Johnny Mercer would have made of the pun).

This is a first-rate album that will delight anyone that likes their jazz to swing and be intensely melodic, played by three master musicians who clearly enjoy making music together.