How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Although the Gold Rush is long over, the Wild West still holds out the promise of reinvention and inspiration. For saxophonist Josh Quinlan, who came of musical age in Chicago and moved to Colorado in 2006, the Front Range jazz scene has been chock-full of opportunity: he is co-director of the Telluride All-Star Program, director of education for the Colorado nonprofit Gift of Jazz, executive director of the jazz label Dazzle Recordings, and creator of the education series Jazz for the Schools, which provides monthly performances for Denver public schools. In the midst of these many activities, Quinlan maintains a strong presence as one of the scene's outstanding musicians, and it's pleasure to hear his debut, Mountain Time Standards, with ten original tunes inspired by life in Colorado and the unique mountain landscape.
The CD starts out with a bang with the hard-swinging "Sus It Out," a powerful song with beautiful harmonics and a crisp arrangement. This is classic toe-tapping, head-bobbing jazz, full of energy and blazing swing. There's great front line work with Quinlan and trumpeter John Lake, and rock-solid support by Ben Markley
on drums. Quinlan's solo reveals his strong, supple tone, as well as his ability to improvise scorching lines. The excellent "Left Then Right" is equally hard bopping, containing a whiff of saxophonist John Coltrane
's "Giant Steps" and a sparkling piano solo by Markley.
Another highlight is the excellent "Eclipse So," a jaunty tune the combines the lilt of island rhythms with an immaculately polished arrangement. Quinlan's solo is smooth and sinuous, once again revealing him to be a gifted soloist with an abundance of ideas and the strength to carry them out. The group also excels on ballads, including the mellow "Lingering," a charming depiction of life unfolding on laidback Colorado time, as well as the lovely "Jumar's Song," where Quinlan takes a gorgeous solo, deeply expressive and thoughtful.
Mountain Time Standards is another fine release by Dazzle Recordings, which is affiliated with Dazzle Jazz, Denver's premiere jazz club. The label was founded by the talented composer and conductor Tyler Gilmore
and is now run by Quinlan. Dazzle Recordings has been releasing a steady stream of recordings by Colorado's finest jazz artists, creating an impressive record of the talent burgeoning on the Front Range scene. Fortunately Quinlan has included himself in the label's output, and his inaugural CD is testament to his significant talent and generous font of inspiration.
Track Listing: Sus It Out; Eclipse So; Night Walk; Lingering; Jumar's Song; Winter Solstice; Left Then Right; Storm Pass; Playa Negra; Anything and Everything.
Personnel: Josh Quinlan: saxophones; John Lake: trumpet; Ben Markley: piano; Kells Nollenberger: bass; Ed Breazeale: drums.