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Allan Holdsworth - None Too Soon CD (album) cover


Allan Holdsworth


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.97 | 47 ratings

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kev rowland
Special Collaborator
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars Prior to the recording of 'Hard Hat Area' Allan had been working with pianist Gordon Beck, and together with bassist Gary Willis and drummer Kirk Covington they had recorded a version of "Michelle" for a tribute album. After 'Hard Hat Area', Gordon was again with Allan and he suggested that they do something quite different ? namely record an album of interpretations of jazz standards by the likes of John Coltrane, Django Reinhardt etc. Allan was taken by the idea, and Gordon suggested which songs they should undertake and they were mostly unfamiliar to Allan who became an avid pupil. They brought back the same rhythm section, and Allan provided all of the guitar and synthesizer sounds on the SynthAxe. The basic tracks were recorded as a group, with the guitar overdubbed afterwards, but to these ears it sounds as if everyone was cooking in the studio at the same time.

This is a jazz album with no room to hide and all four musicians are obviously on the very top of their game, bouncing the ideas and melodies. Gary and Kirk obviously have a great understanding between each other and provide an extremely complex bedrock while Gordon's impact on this recording is immense. Gordon was house pianist at Ronnie Scott's and his knowledge of the genre was extremely wide and varied and it is no surprise that there are times when Allan defers such as on Joe Henderson's "Isotope" where Gordon leads the way (followed by some stunning bass it has to be said).

While the vast majority of songs are indeed jazz standards, one that isn't is "Norwegian Wood" which is given a very different arrangement and again Gordon has a huge impact on this, whether it is providing a melodic lead or simply repeating a chord sequence that allows Allan to spread his wings. I doubt if Lennon and McCartney ever imagined that the song could be treated in this way, but it has taken what is for me one of their lesser numbers and has moved it into a totally new direction. It is interesting to note that Gordon had originally recorded the song himself back in 1968 on his 'Experiments with Pops' album, but Allan provides a fluidity and note density that makes this his own.

All in all a very different album from the one that proceeded it, yet I would be hard pressed to pick between the two as they are both stunning pieces of work. This has been reissued by MoonJune in a digipak, the recordings have been remastered, and there are great sleevenotes from Barry Cleveland.

kev rowland | 4/5 |


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