Jazz CD Reviews

Lewis Nash Quintet – The Highest Mountain – Cellar Live

A tight contemporary band lead by a veteran drummer.

Published on July 30, 2013

Lewis Nash Quintet – The Highest Mountain – Cellar Live CL091811, 74:43 ****:

(Lewis Nash – drums; Renee Rosnes – piano; Peter Washington – acoustic bass; Jimmy Greene – tenor & soprano saxophone; Jeremy Pelt – trumpet & Flugelhorn)

Today’s jazz drummer is not just a metronome who doesn’t appreciate music or structure. He is, in effect, the glue that holds any band together because he is always playing, even when other members of the band lay out. Lewis Nash is the epitome of that kind of drummer that sets the tone, controls the undercurrents of the compositions, and keeps the group moving forward. This is perfectly exemplified in the release by the Lewis Nash Quintet The Highest Mountain.

Recorded live at Cory Weeds’ Cellar Jazz Club in Vancouver, British Columbia, this exemplary band of contemporary musicians runs through a set of compositions by Bobby Hutcherson, Joe Henderson, Clifford Jordan, Thad Jones, Thelonious Monk, and band member Renee Rosnes. Nash, who is an honestly evocative drummer, sets the tone out of the gate with Bobby Hutcherson’s Teddy with trumpeter Jeremy Pelt showing his chops. Pianist Renee Rosnes is a Canadian who grew up in North Vancouver, jumps in with her own composition “From Here To A Star” which is based on the chord progressions on “How Deep Is The Ocean” and again Pelt makes the most of his solo space.

Nash uses all of his drum kit in the opening bars of Joe Henderson’s “Y Todavia La Queiro” and then continues to straddle the composition with his virtuosity until the final notes. The title tune is Clifford Jordan’s “The Highest Mountain” with both Jimmy Greene on tenor and Pelt on flugelhorn taking the tune along as Nash offers scintillating drum breaks. In this session of post-bop offerings, every track is constructed to take advantage of the strengths of each member of the band, and none of them disappoint. The Thad Jones burner “Ain’t Nothing Nu” was originally recorded in 1976 on a quintet album by Mel Lewis called Mel Lewis & Friends and fits perfectly in this band with Jeremy Pelt’s trumpet functioning on another plane. That sly old fox Thelonious Monk penned “Eronel” very early in his career and recorded it in 1951 with Milt Jackson. The progressive melody and dissonant chords are easily handled by the band and the track makes a fitting closing to the session.

TrackList: Teddy; From Here To A Star; Y Todavia La Queiro; The Highest Mountain; Goodbye; Blues Connotation; Arioso; Ain’t Nothin’ Nu; Eronel

—Pierre Giroux

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