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Henry Franklin: Music to the 5th Power (2007)

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Henry Franklin: Music to the 5th Power How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

The jazz quintet has long held a distinctive fascination for the world of straight-ahead performance. An improvising front line and a solid rhythm section can bring five sterling musicians together with unpredictable results. On Music to the 5th Power, bassist Henry Franklin's quintet travels the mainstream with spontaneity and an uplifting cry.

Guitarist Mark Waggoner, saxophonist George Harper and pianist Gary Matsumoto bring plenty of spirit to the unit's front line, while Franklin and drummer Donald Dean color the rhythmic foundation equitably. Matsumoto, Waggoner and Franklin have each contributed original songs for this session, which drives hard and fast at times and waltzes passionately at others.

Franklin's big, booming double bass carries a strong rhythm on the quintet's up-tempo numbers. With a slow ballad such as "Once in a While, he takes the time to express melody from the heart. With such a big, round, natural sound the bassist leaves an indelible impression. You won't find anyone talking to his neighbor during these bass solos.

As a veteran whose wide-ranging experiences travel the jazz spectrum from Hugh Masekela to Willie Bobo to Archie Shepp, Franklin knows what it takes to keep the flame alive. He was musical director for an outstanding little nightclub in Ventura, California for many years, where he personally lit that torch and maintained its rich glow. With this straight-ahead program, he reminds us that the best always wins; and will do so for eternity.

Track Listing: Bright Road Ahead; Music to the 5th Power; Tyrone; Once in a While; Old Devil Moon; Michiko; Little B's Poem; You Are So Beautiful.

Personnel: Henry Franklin: double bass; Mark Waggoner: guitar; George Harper: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone (8); Gary Matsumoto: piano; Donald Dean: drums; Felice Dean, Michiko Smith: percussion (6).

Record Label: Skipper Productions


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