MacFarlane/McNeil

Silver Lined

Muzone

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THE east coast of Scotland meets Seventh Avenue, Manhattan on this appealing first album from East Lothian-based guitarist Malcolm MacFarlane and Dundonian saxophonist Gordon McNeil’s new group.

McNeil has long had a fascination for the music that came out of the Brecker Brothers’ New York jazz club, Seventh Avenue South, and although the mind-set behind the album is Blue Note Records’1960s legacy, it’s the decades that followed immediately afterwards that the music suggests most. The Breckers, Pat Metheny and British jazz-funk heroes Morrissey-Mullen all spring to mind.

Easy on the ear melodies played in superb, sibling close sax-guitar unison combine with variously rugged, rhapsodic and conversational improvising from the leaders especially but also from Perth-born pianist Malcolm Edmonstone while drummer Tom Gordon adds poise and energetic fizz as required and bassist David Bowden lends a sure presence.

The addition of Iain Sandilands on vibes emphasises the relaxed, swinging Steps Ahead-like quality of Mendy’s Song and McNeil’s homage to saxophonist Bob Berg, whose life was tragically cut short at fifty-one by a motoring accident during a blizzard, captures its subject beautifully, its rumble-tumble creative urgency spurring MacFarlane, Edmonstone and McNeil himself into an eager, three-way trading choruses sequence.

Rob Adams