KGQ – Under the Influence

Reviewed by Garry Corbett


Ten tracks from the Kieron Garrett Quartet which wear their influence on their sleeve hence the title of the album. Of those ten tracks eight are Garrett originals plus two co-written with the band’s bass player Mike Pratt. It’s one of the latter, Senor Beaver, which opens the album in fine in-your-face style making their fusion statement from  the off. Fusion is a strange concept these days when the world is out there just a click away. Surely not to produce some kind of fusion must be almost impossible?

Like his first album, It’s Time, the latest was recorded at Miloco Studios in North London from start to finish live in one intense day of work. Overdubs of percussion and synth were added later but essentially this is as it happened. It takes a well-drilled unit to produce music this polished and indeed KGQ rehearse regularly as both a trio and quartet when not gigging and it shows. 80’s Cop Show does what it says on the tin, sounding like it’s just waiting for the opening credits complete with car chase. Tom Scott would have been proud to have produced this one. Burkina Faso, to my ears a highlight of their live set, sees them in mildly Weather Report territory with shimmering electric piano  and a strong sax theme over a ringing bass line and metronomic drumming. Dave O’Higgins’ saxophone is especially strong on this one with some stately playing and a memorable theme. Sexual Chocolate takes us on a slow dance with unison keyboard and sax line over an insistent beat.

Elsewhere, Ponds offers us spacey sounds and a particularly fine bass line from Mike Pratt who shines throughout. Reflection offers shades of Jaco (Pastorius not Jackson) and another fine melody line for O’Higgins to explore. Slash ‘n Grab is the second Garrett/Pratt composition which steps up a gear and kicks from beginning to end with more engaging bass and drum work with Peter Cumber’s drums working particularly effectively beneath Garrett’s solo keyboard before he hands the baton to O’Higgins.

Kenley Road, named for Garrett’s street where the trio aspect of KGQ regularly rehearse takes us on a mid-paced lope around the district with added percussion and rainmaker effects. Some Ink Blues offers us a heavy bass boogie back into cop soundtrack territory and album closer The Junction bids the album farewell with some warm swelling Hammond chords and floating Thrust-period Herbie Hancock style piano and another strong sax outing from O’Higgins.

Under The Influence KGQ may be but don’t imagine that this is pastiche or a throwback to the golden age of 70s fusion. These guys take their influences seriously but emerge as very much their own men. I believe a tour is planned in the near future to promote this album. Highly recommended.

Categories: CD review

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