Barry Elmes Quintet – Dog’s Breakfast – Cornerstone Records

Barry Elmes Quintet – Dog’s Breakfast – Cornerstone Records CRST CD147 56:37***

A new release filled with self-assured playing

( Brian O’Kane – trumpet, flugelhorn; Mike Murley – tenor saxophone; Lorne Lofsky – guitar; Steve Wallace – bass; Barry Elmes – drums)

With an unconventional title Dog’s Breakfast, this is the first release in seven years from the Barry Elmes Quintet. Featuring a combination of original material by Elmes, and some less frequently heard jazz compositions, the album gives these well-known Canadian musicians an occasion to demonstrate their acknowledgement of a shared avocation.

Opening with Freddie Hubbard’s “Little Sunflower” bassist Wallace and guitarist Lofsky set the stage for the front line to develop the opening theme. Elmes keeps the rhythmic figures in a bracing attack as Murley and O’Kane delve into some abundant self-assured playing. The title tune “Dog’s Breakfast” is breezy little number guided by O’Kane’s muted trumpet not only through the opening bars, but for the balance of the number. Murley eventually jumps in demonstrating his exploratory instincts.

“Beautiful Love” shines as a trio number with Elmes, Wallace and Lofsky,  driven by some tasty brush work from Elmes as he sets the pace with his declarative touch. Lofsky and Wallace throw off notes in an investigative fashion. Another of those quirky but lesser known jazz tunes is the Tommy Wolfe/Fran Landesman piece called “Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most”. Generally performed as a  ballad vocal ( due to the interesting lyrics) the quintet does not stray from this form. The front line of O’Kane and Murley have a sense of the occasion and pretty much keep within the strictures of the melody, although everyone shows some interesting vocabulary in their improvised solos.

The final track composed by two bopsters, pianist Gerald Wiggins and drummer Kenny Clarke is entitled “Sonar” ( there is some confusion around the spelling of this number, as some discographies show the spelling as Sonor). Despite the spelling confusion, the tune was written with bebop line, although the band here seems to favour a more restrained “chamber-jazz” interpretation. Nevertheless it is a smartly done with all hands on deck, participating in a compelling harmonic structure.

TrackList: 
Little Sunflower
Dog’s Breakfast
Terminal
Beautiful Love
Pierre Berton’s Pig
Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most
Right As Rain
Katie’s Blues
Sonar

—Pierre Giroux

Photo by Don Vickerly

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