Invisible Landscape ★★★★ review

Invisible Landscape ★★★★ review

Nice review for new album in ‘Get Ready to Rock’:

Perdido [Release date 10.06.16]

Chris Allard probably won’t thank me for saddling him with the jazz fusion tag, but he’s a subtle guitarist who evokes the likes of John Schofield and Lee Ritenour over 10 tracks full of inspired interplay, essential spontaneity and deep solos that rise surreptitiously from the most introspective of beginnings.

Allard is a touch player who gently caresses his strings and varies the intensity of his notes to explore different nuances. On the second track ‘Critter’, he pushes the trio on to another level with sculpted, crystal clear guitar lines that make an emotional connection.

He’s also a conversational guitarist who engages the listener with an ethereal feel to beguile us with the gentlest of touch, while his restless creativity leads to spiralling solos that always retain a linear direction.

He also sets himself little tensions which are resolved by a clever use of dynamics over a melange of styles. His music may be rooted in jazz fusion, but it’s not necessarily defined by that genre.

He cuts the main body of the tracks with his trio and then overlays them with a variety of tones, while the gap between the two provides a potent dynamic thrust.

Listen for example, to the chiming resonance of the title track, on which he threads a delicate web of interwoven guitar lines, which snake their way through the song like a guide.

On the opening ‘Morphic Resonance’, he spends the first 1 minute and 45 seconds constructing an introspective ambient landscape before any semblance of a thematic development, while building up a tension with strummed chords.

The understated style is revisited on the sonic featherbed of ‘Extended Mind’ which draws the listener into another angular journey.

‘Hekla’ is a meditative tranquil piece with an undulating sweep, melodic beauty and a well crafted finish with a gentle fade.  Coming at just past the half way point, it acts as a musical pit-stop, before Allard heads into the fusiony ‘Finn’, a track glued together by yet more intricate interplay.

Wayne Shorter’s ‘Fall’ provides an exhilarating lift to the album as Allard makes a deft use of space, time and a delicate tone to make the piece his own.

Bassist Oli Hayhurst is both an unobtrusive accompanist and an occasional soloist, as on the gently plucked ‘Distant Storm Clouds’, a percolating piece which evokes the song title perfectly.

Drummer Nick Smalley’s consistent phrasing also gives the album substance and continuity, allowing Allard’s notes to rise, twinkle and fill the tracks with tonal variety and a range of emotional nuances.

In an age of instant downloads and short attention spans, ‘Invisible Landscape’ is a brave album built on artistic integrity, framed by Allard’s inventive musical vision and realized by the band’s technical and improvisational excellence. ****

Review by Pete Feenstra

Invisible Landscape

Invisible Landscape

Chris Allard releases ‘Invisible Landscape’ on 10th June through Perdido Records [DOR-1601], his fourth album as a leader.  Regarded as one of the UK’s finest contemporary jazz guitarists/composers, he has performed and recorded with Jacqui Dankworth, Gwilym Simcock, the BBC Big Band and Jamie Cullum, amongst others. A guitar-led contemporary jazz group firmly rooted in and informed by jazz tradition, yet encompassing elements of rock, world, classical, blues and folk influences, the Chris Allard Band has performed all over the UK and in Europe, including the International Guitar Festival and Ronnie Scott’s. Critical acclaim has included 4 stars in Guitarist Magazine.

Returning to the open yet challenging guitar trio format, ‘Invisible Landscape’ features top musicians Oli Hayhurst on double bass and Nick Smalley on drums. After laying down the main guitar parts on Gibson 335 electric guitar live with the trio, extra guitar parts were added to a number of the pieces – dimensions and colours of various different guitars; steel-string acoustic, classical guitar, other electric guitars with differing textures and effects.

‘Invisible Landscape’ features seven original tunes, plus a trio version of Wayne Shorter’s beautiful ballad ‘Fall’, and two songs with very special guest; Memphis legend Charlie Wood on vocals and keys: ‘Let’s Get Lost’, and ‘Was’.

Il Divo arena tour 2016

Chris is playing guitar in the orchestra for the UK Il Divo arena tour in May 2016, with venues including the O2 arena in London


Highgate Jazz with Soul Festival – Charlie Wood

The Gatehouse Theatre, Highgate, London – 31st August at 2pm. £20/£18.

Playing Charlie’s latest album New Souvenirs – with all the musicians from the album.

Charlie Wood (piano/keys/vocals), Tom Walsh (trumpet), Ben Castle (tenor saxophone), Mark Nightingale (trombone),
Chris Allard (guitar), Dudley Phillips (bass), Nic France (drums).

Russell Watson Tour

Russell Watson Tour

Currently on 80+ date tour with the UK’s biggest-selling classical artist, multi-platinum singer Russell Watson. Very eclectic programme, and fantastic lineup of piano, string quartet, and Chris is playing classical, steel-string acoustic and electric guitars, and also electric bass and mandolin. And there’s a choir. Too many dates to put on gig list – come along if near you!


Feb 08th Ronnie Scott’s with Charlie Wood

Looking forward to playing the main show at Ronnie’s with Memphis legend Charlie Wood – music from his recently-released album ‘New Souvenirs’, which has has received critical acclaim including:

★★★★ Jazzwise

★★★★ Jazz Journal

★★★★ R2 Magazine

“Remember the first time you heard Dylan, or Springsteen, or Costello, or Waits?  Charlie Wood delivers that same jolt.” – Jazz Times

Check out this video recorded live in the studio when making the album:

Il Divo arena tour

18th – 31st October touring with Il Divo as part of their orchestra, playing at the O2 London, arenas all over the UK, and the O2 in Dublin.

Alison Balsom Tour

Chris is touring the UK with gramophone award-winning trumpeter Alison Balson, 28th september – 14th October, dates including the iTunes Festival, London, numerous venues across the country to Edinburgh, and back again to the Royal Albert Hall.

Charlie Wood – new album

Proud to be on the new album by incredible Memphis legend Charlie Wood, which is being released this autumn. It features all-original fantastic compositions and arrangements by Charlie, with a great band, horns, strings, and Charlie on piano, vocals, rhodes, hammond B-3.


Upcoming gigs

Chris Allard Band

Chris Allard/Brandon Allen Quartet