On Pink Lane is the third album release from the Abbie Finn Trio and follows on from the well- received Northern Perspective – reviewed by SimplyJazzTalk two years ago. All nine tracks that make up On Pink Lane have been written and arranged by Abbie Finn and, according to Abbie there is more of a “focus on varied rhythmic concepts and include[s] heavy improvisation.”
The opening number is a very good straight-ahead jazz style tune with Harry Keeble playing the melody with confidence and feel. The trade section between Harry and Abbie works well and Paul Grainger on bass adds depth to the overall sound that makes this a good opening number. The album’s title track is a homage to the place where the three musicians first met and played together. The tune has a march like opening first couple of bars before Harry brings in the melody. I have heard this tune played live and remember enjoying Paul’s bass line; that enjoyment has not diminished over time. ‘On Pink Lane’, for me, highlights how tight this unit have become over the years they have played together.
‘The Warren’ is a more contemporary, disjointed tune in 5/4 nicely presented by the rhythm section. Harry Keeble features heavily in this number and, as with the opening number, plays with a growing assurance allowing the tune to unfold, nothing feeling forced, the notes falling easily from his sax. ‘So It’s True’ picks up the tempo and feel of a funk style number. The drumming is crisp, snappy and drives the tune forward. Paul’s bass maintains a steady pulsing pattern while Harry plays some terrific runs over the top. There is a greater use of the sax’s range here but always controlled, nicely layered and Abbie’s solo section works very well within the number.
‘The Labyrinth’ has a wonderful rich sound to it – which, apparently, is largely down to the sound engineer Ray Beckett who “captured the sound of a vast and immense labyrinth through his editing, particularly in the drum solo where [Abbie] uses mallets on the kit.” The tonal colouring is a joy, as is the sonorous drumming from Abbie and Paul’s full-bodied bass lines. I have no idea what the inspiration is behind this Bossa styled tune, but it is certainly not the North-East. The stimulus behind ‘Mirador De Los Poleos’ was a trip to Tenerife where Abbie and her father drove up high to see the stars. There is a real feel for wide-open space and wonderment in this beautifully written number. Paul Grainger plays the melody with discernment, as does Harry when he picks up the lead. Abbie sits quietly in the background providing rhythmic accompaniment with delicate brushwork and gentle washes of the cymbal.
‘A Real Job’ features a repeating phrase that asks the question asked of so many musicians, “When are you going to get a real job?” The answers are found in the lively responses lead by Harry Keeble on sax and when the answers are played this well what other job would he and the band do? ‘Big Old Spice Cabinet’ is another tune I have heard play live (see the posting ‘The Abbie Finn Trio play a faux beach in the centre of London’ from September 2022 under the ‘Seeing Live’ section of this blog.), I thoroughly enjoyed it then and did so again as I listened to it in a studio setting. There is much to admire about this multi-layered tune and its variety of rhythmic patterns and sound structure.
On Pink Lane finishes with a tune named after Abbie’s “mam’s erratic cat who loves to zoom about the house and attack everything in her path.” ‘Jazz The Cat’ sounds like fun and kind of brings the album full circle in terms of playing style. The rhythm section is rock solid here as Harry plays around them utilising his instrument’s range to good effect. Paul Grainger, who again plays great bass lines, is a bassist I like listening to – I also very much enjoy the way that Abbie accents some of Harry’s notes to emphasize the end of a line.
This is the second of the Abbie Finn Trio albums I have reviewed, and I have heard tracks from each of the albums played live. There is a maturity to this third release that comes from having spent time developing their own voice – this is helped by the fact that all compositions on this album are originals. As well as being a drummer whose compact playing style I admire, I am also very much enjoying Abbie Finn’s compositional work. In addition, I have to say that Harry Keeble plays with a sense of confidence in his own ability and the music he is involved in showcasing. There is much to admire in this trio and, in my opinion, On Pink Lane should be the calling card that brings this group to wider attention.
Musicians: Abbie Finn – drums; Harry Keeble – tenor sax; Paul Grainger – double bass.
Tracklist: 1. North Sea Wind. 2. On Pink Lane. 3. The Warren. 4. So It’s True. 5. The Labyrinth. 6. Mirador De Los Poleos. 7. A Real Job. 8. Big Old Spice Cabinet. 9. Jazz The Cat
Compositions and arrangements by Abbie Finn
Recorded, mixed and mastered by Ray Beckett
Recorded in Blank Studios, Newcastle July 2022