Ellen Rowe Quartet – Wishing Well – PKO Records 054, 69:44 *****:
The Ellen Rowe Quartet has been around since 2002, but “Wishing Well” is only their second recording. Their first effort, “Denali Pass,” was released in 2005. The quartet is made up of Ellen Rowe on piano, Andrew Bishop on tenor and soprano saxophones, Kurt Krahnke on bass, and Pete Siers on drums. Every person in the quartet is a first-class jazz musician, and plays with equal measures of subtlety and energy, and a sure sense of rhythm. Joining in for two tracks is Ingrid Jensen, a talented trumpet and flugelhorn player, and Andy Haefner plays tenor sax on one number, “For Donald.” Listening to the group, you get the feeling that these people know their jazz history. There’s a depth to their performances that can only come with an equally deep understanding of the music.
“Wishing Well” sounds fresh and lively, even though it wouldn’t be out of place more than a few decades ago. It’s an interesting conundrum. It’s both seasoned and vital. This is a strong recording. If you sometimes find yourself longing for the classic sounds of a traditional jazz quartet played cool, the Ellen Rowe Quartet will find a home in your listening repertoire. Here’s hoping that Ellen Rowe and her musical partners don’t wait another five years before releasing a third CD. Highly recommended!
TrackList: For That Which Was Living, Lost; Lewisburg Bluesy-oo; Night Sounds; Tick Tock; Longing; Sanity Clause; Wishing Well; Seven Steps To My Yard; For Donald; Alone Together.
– Hermon Joyner