Allan McKeown Quartet, Whighams Wine Cellars, Edinburgh, Scotland, 19 January 2020.

It was with some mild relief – I really should have asked before now – that this over-thinker learned of the origin of the title of highly respected Scottish guitarist Allan McKeown’s recently released album, PJ’s Donut Club. According to McKeown, his daughter PJ drew a lovely picture of a donut, took it to school and started up PJ’s Donut Club. A beautiful wee story.

And many of the tunes from this album featured in tonight’s two sets, which were a veritable feast of 60’s style soul-jazz. On first listen the music might have seemed deceptively ‘easy’, possibly as all the melodies were so familiar – ‘My Cherie D’Amour’ and ‘Besame Mucho’, for example – yet the expertise on display was considerable, the jazz chops uniformly exemplary.

Band leader McKeown’s warm and delicate guitar style complemented ubiquitous keysman Paul Harrison’s more extroverted Hammond organ, whilst drummer Max Popp and percussionist Tina Freeland eptly deputised, in lieu of regular drummer Stu Brown and legendary percussionist Steve Foreman.

This was music of gentle charm, underlying the adage that jazz is a very broad church, and does not always have to make your ears bleed, to be quality.

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