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Album Review

Ally Fiola & The Next Quest: Interblaze


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Ally Fiola & The Next Quest: Interblaze
Nova Scotian alto saxophonist Ally Fiola considers the themes of grief, wonder, fear and passion with her octet The Next Quest, on Interblaze. With a lot of low-end brass—baritone saxophone, trombone, sousaphone—the sound has a New Orleans brass band feel. It is also fun, celebratory music. The title tune and opening number sounds like a prance down Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras—beads flying through the air, people in outlandish dress dancing.

An insouciant organ opens "Backtrack"; the horns weave in and out and around each other. Written by Fiola—as were seven of the eight tunes here—this one came about when she was under the influence of mistaking a recumbent elk for a cougar (it could happen to anyone). The music, a flock of horns, swirls like a bevy of small tornados, perhaps a manifestation of fear of that alleged wild predatory cat.

"Thoughts of Home" sounds sorrowful, anguished even (perhaps Fiola suffering while abroad from homesickness), as if the band is on the march to St. James Infirmary.

Like all high-energy brass workouts, Interblaze has a strong life-affirming quality, a forge ahead, take-no-bull-from-anyone attitude. "Intuition," with rollicking horn arrangement and a cool organ breeze organ, is reminiscent of Duke Ellington's "Blues For New Orleans" from his New Orlean Suite (Atlantic Records, 1970).

The album closes with a tribute to Fiola's grandfather, "Amazing Grace," with a swinging, danceable midsection which leans on Bill Withers' 1972 soul-pop hit "Lean On Me" before shifting back into the traditional atmosphere of the song.

Track Listing

Interblaze; Back Track; Circular Beginnings; Intuition; Rocket Sunrise; Thoughts Of Home; Underground; Amazing Grace.


Ally Fiola: saxophone; Jeff Coffin: saxophone; Simon Oakly: trombone.

Additional Instrumentation

Glen Patscha: organ, piano, accordion; Chris Mitchell: baritone saxophone; Addison Sowery- Quinn: sousaphone; Shvan Kaban: guitar; Andrew Miller: drums.

Album information

Title: Interblaze | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Arts Nova Scotia

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