West Coast composer Reed Kotler describes himself as a project-oriented songwriter with one burning ambition, to have his music heard! This led to the creation of his own label (Tori Records) to facilitate various groups in performing his music. Kotler even came up with the idea of forming a quintet to record his charts and gave it the "Tomo name which means "friends in Japanese.
Tomo is no typical quintetwith the likes of piano virtuoso Bill Cunliffe leading the pack, this is a collection of jazz all stars. The other members of this formidable group include reed man Bob Sheppard, guitarist Larry Koonse, drummer Mark Ferber and bassist Darek Oles.
Cunliffe also serves as producer and arranger in sculpting the twelve-piece album. The result is one excellent session of music with rich harmonic texture and beautiful melodic lines. The style is very contemporary with a touch of Latin jazz as evident on "Noche and "Dancing All Night, that both move to a salsa groove.
One of the best compositions here is "From My Point of View, containing solid solo performances from Oles, Koonse and a bass-tenor sax line from Sheppard leading into a Cunliffe run that completes the harmony. "Passion, is another light Latin ballad featuring the guitar work of Koonse with splendid support from Sheppard's sensuous horn play. Sheppard not only plays the tenor but the soprano, clarinet and flute on this disc.
There's plenty more good music on the album with other notable tunes like the lively "I've Been Waiting for You, the heavenly waltz of "Lucy, and the very bouncy burner "Long Enough, that Cunliffe tears apart with expressive piano phrasings. I'll Always Know seems to be an appropriate title to an album with the caliber of players on it intimating that whatever is played, one should always know, is bound to be good.
Personnel: Bill Cunliffe: piano, arranger; Bob Sheppard: tenor sax, soprano sax, flute, clarinet; Larry Koonse: guitar; Darek Oles: bass; Mark Ferber: drums.