BATL quartet, Live, RT Jazz Records **** makes you feel you are there in the room – BATL in case you were wondering the initials of Brandon Allen on tenor saxophone and Tim Lapthorn on piano. The tunes are mainly Allen’s with Lapthorn contributing ‘Return to Life’ and ‘Cuckoo’ – the live sound at the Pizza Express Jazz Club below street level on Soho’s Dean Street recorded in March and excellently captured by Luc St Martin who also later did the mix and mastering.

Brandon dedicates his tune ‘Theodore’ to his young son just five months old at the time: and the tunes as well as being personal to him are very communicative, natural, and tender. Arnie Somogyi is on bass and Lloyd Haines is on drums. Brandon says in the notes: “I feel very optimistic about the creative potential of this quartet,” and you can understand why after oh about a couple of notes and yet there is nothing cloying in the quartet’s approach because the band sound is grounded in tough hard bop. The tenor is big and bright, the piano support nurturing, bass springy and curious – and as for Haines on drums just as well he can do spang a lang so perfectly but who can also make the switch as on ‘Lazy Day’ to do that tricky falling that bit trampling behind the beat as Brandon goes scalar. The only way is up. SG