Jazz CD Reviews

Five Play Jazz Quintet – Five of Hearts (2011) – Auraline Records

Their second album has really the same theme as the previous one with Laura Klein, the pianist-composer, stating their presentation is melodic heartfelt jazz that feeds your soul.

Published on June 30, 2011

Five Play Jazz Quintet – Five of Hearts (2011) – Auraline Records

Five Play Jazz Quintet – Five of Hearts (2011) – Auraline Records, 59:19 *****:

(Tony Corman – guitar; Laura Klein – piano; Paul Smith – bass; Alan Hall – drums; Dave Tidball – saxes & clarinet)

Five Play Jazz Quintet have released their second CD album for this ensemble.  There is no change in personnel from last year’s release of Five Play Jazz Quintet (2010). This ensemble came together over a number of years both on the east coast and moved to the west coast settling in the San Francisco bay area.  They started in 1977 with Tony Corman meeting Laura Klein and they fell in love.  Add to the mix the ability to compose and play music exceptionally well and you have a good start.  They picked up two more players, drummer Alan Hall and Dave Tidball on woodwinds which they gigged with while on the east coast.  Tony and Laura marry in 1984 and head for the West Coast bay area.  Dave and Alan follow and they later pick up bassist Paul Smith and last year formerly step out as Five Play Jazz Quintet.

Five of Hearts (2011) their second album has really the same theme as the previous one with Laura Klein, the pianist-composer, stating their presentation is melodic heartfelt jazz that feeds your soul.  I have heard several musicians who say there are two song books, The American Song Book and The Musicians’ Song Book.  In this case it is the musician’s song book with all original tunes composed by Tony Corman and Laura Klein.  The type of music and rhythms presented are tango, samba, burning up-tempo jazz, and much more.  In listening to this album I heard a bit more of the ballad sound and other songs exciting as well.  These are great musicians and as I continue to hear Dave Tidball work out on his saxophones I am struck with his elegant style and particularly the way he dances music-wise with his soprano saxophone.  The great thing about this ensemble is no one is left out.  They are all featured at some point or other in each song.  

Often when you play the first track of an album you get a tune that gets your attention.  “Terra Incognita” is a Latin sounding composition by pianist, Laura Klein and is no exception.  The tune intro starts with Laura chording on piano with bassist Paul Smith in unison.  The rhythm changes with Dave Tidball on his alto sax laying out a lovely melody while Paul on bass and Alan Hall backs him.  The time signature breaks with Laura changing places taking the melody with the rest of the rhythm section, and then all join in and slip in and out with the melody.  Nice!  Laura breaks into that typical chording piano and Tony Corman comes in with his solo on guitar, enunciated by Dave on sax.

“Ting-a-Ling” is a multi-rhythm piece with some syncopation and counter rhythms between Dave on alto sax with percussion countering.  Then the other players start coming in when suddenly it breaks into some great straight ahead jazz for a few bars then drops back to the first rhythmic lines, then swings out again.  I found it to be a good toe tapper.  Tony Corman really shows he has the right stuff in his composition.

Laura Klein composed “From Time to Time”.  It is a quiet tune with several counter melodies with various time signatures to it.  It actually left me with a daydream of traveling through a shadily-lit river scene watching the shore go by with perhaps a South American jungle type view.  Laura takes a lot of solos in this with the rest of the rhythm section behind her with occasional visits by Tony on guitar and Dave on soprano sax painting in with unison voicing.

Tony’s composition “Ha Ha” is a jewel.  Dave sounds almost like he is saying “Ha Ha” on his sax in the beginning.  Tony and Dave play call and answer then play in unison.  It is described on the liner notes as a boogaloo and it definitely gives you a boost in the groovin’ department.  Dave works out nicely on his tenor sax with Tony filling in on guitar, and Laura doing some low left hand fills on piano.

Laura composed “Monsoon Blues” during a long and rainy stretch of California winter.  I particularly like hearing when Laura is in trio mode with Paul often walking the bass and taking some solo time with Alan augmenting with drum work.   Then the group comes back to the melody line to finish off the piece.  Nice blues to say the least. Laura’s composition “Ano Novo” takes on a samba rhythm with Dave Tidball playing a lyrical joyous, soprano sax dancing sweetly through this Brazilian sounding piece.  Laura takes it about half way through with some wonderful samba piano.  It is really a sweet sound.

Tony wrote “Ya Kitis Zaks” delving into the Balkan style music sound coupled at times with a rock rhythm.  It is a very interesting play on the sense of rhythm.  Here comes Dave with the soprano sax dueling with Alan on drums.  It gets very exotic sounding at times.  This is not an easy piece with the entire fast-moving rhythm changes but so, so delightful.

“Summer Dusk” by Laura is a beautiful ballad that the album says she wrote influenced by Duke Ellington’s works.  Dave’s mellow sax playing is followed by Laura giving a sweet lyrical voicing on her piano with backing by the others.  “Scrim Shimmy” by Tony has an earlier jazz era sound but still has a slightly softer edge to it.  Each player takes a solo in this.  I particularly like the playing of bassist Paul Smith.

“Kiss of the Tenor” works Dave out with his mellow sound on alto sax and is every bit a tango.  Then suddenly it swings with Dave on sax, Tony on guitar, Paul on Bass, and Alan on drums. Then the style changes back and forth from tango to swing and finally ends on the Tango.  It is a very cool composition by Tony.

“Brother Dave” musically is the sound of gospel music.  Tony apparently wrote this for “Brother” Dave Tidball who gives us a great message in saxophonish.  There is a bit of call and answer with Tony and Dave.  This song sounds excellent for the finish of the album.

Five of Hearts leaves me with the feeling of wondering and craving to hear more to see what this quintet could possibly do next that would top this album.  I anxiously await and hope they feel the call.  The album liner notes and artistic look are excellent. There are photos of the musicians and good explanations of songs.  The sound quality is excellent.  I feel it is a top class presentation.

TrackList:  Terra Incognita; Ting-a-Ling; From Time to Time; Ha Ha; Monsoon Blues; Ano Novo; Ya Kitis Zaks; Summer Dusk; Scrim Shimmy; Kiss of the Tenor; Brother Dave.

— Tim Taylor

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