This album will truly force you to reconsider the traditional motif of quartets.
This album from ESJQ plays with a focus in mind. They perform for the benefit of many social awareness organizations including the Homeless Children’s network. All in support of the cause of equity and social justice as their name suggests. Their music is evidence of their interpretive style on the aforementioned issues.
They play with unrelenting bass and quick movements all across the board. “Are That A Skunks?” is an excellent example. With fast-paced bass setting the background and an immensely powerful performance by David Boyce on tenor saxophone one can only help but discover interpretation about the human experience. Another bass heavy song, “Martha Memories” slows the bass and highlights the improvisation of their drummer, Timothy Orr.
The Whisper of Flowers incorporates a harmony of both the saxophone and trumpet. It progresses with an affinity for waxing and waning. A further example of their improv style is “Tiny Telephone.” The song begins with unusual sounds; the blowing of spit from the trumpet; then the gradual, albeit sporadic tap of the drums. Then, they escalate with a rumbling interplay of individual instruments. Each seems to play his own unique role with his own goals in mind and they are still somehow able to convince me they play with a collective purpose on each song.
This, my friends, is an album that will truly force you to reconsider the traditional motif of quartets. They break just enough rules to engage the listener but not so many that they fall into the deep, dark, soul-crushing black hole of many unsuccessful–and unfortunately successful– avant-garde artists. These musicians give an apparent meaning and sound to their music and they are not afraid to break with conventions to make their point. They are very unknown (I couldn’t even find reviews online, and you thought everything was online) but I will speak to their unique fluency in jazz.
I highly recommend we play their tracks. Plus I mean, homeless children. Come on, don’t be the guy that hates them. Let’s get them out there!
Recommended if you like: Balanescu Quartet
Recommended Tracks: I recommend every song
Reviewed By Johnny McFarland on October 30, 2014