The notes on the back cover of Girl Talk
, the new disc from the Mel Brown Quartet, proudly proclaim that the band has "over 100 years of collective experience. Indeed, an easy, lived-in approach defines the ten tracks on the album. It is the work of veterans whose professionalism yields consistently solid results. The musiciansMel Brown (drums), Dan Balmer (guitar), Ed Bennett (bass), and Tony Pacini (piano)are all bandleaders in their own right. Based in Portland, Oregon, the band came together in the fall of 2002.
The title track gets a dreamy treatment with lush, deft brushwork from Brown. Pacini (who summons a crystalline solo) and Balmer caress the lovely melody with heightened sensitivity, causing the listener to wish they would just keep going and not allow the inevitable disappointment when the number comes to an end. Elsewhere, the quartet explores the elegant "Waltz For Theo, composed by Bennett. In addition to contributing the song, Bennett also offers a stimulating, full-throated solo.
The hushed glow of Balmer's "Venus is absolutely gorgeous, and the final track, Miles Davis' classic "Milestones, finds the band going at full throttle. Brown combines insistent cymbal work with speedy and powerful bomb clusters. Like the best up-tempo performances, it has a feel that it might simply accelerate off the rails, yet somehow it stays right on track.
Girl Talk features some exceedingly strong, straightforward jazz. The Mel Brown Quartet plays with passion and evident joy. The album is warm and completely enjoyable.
Personnel: Mel Brown: drums; Tony Pacini: piano; Dan Balmer: guitar; Ed Bennett: bass.