The Dan Thomas Quintet: City Scope (2004)
The largely bop-based program is comprised solely of original compositions, eight by Thomas, the other three by Eriksen. The time-keeper, a transplanted Chicagoan, is an accomplished musician, as are the other members of the quintet—trumpeter Joe Parisi, pianist Roger Wilder and bassist Bram Wijnands. As for Thomas, he validates his credentials from the outset with an earnest soprano solo on “Sertan,” then reinforces them by solidly nailing every other shot, whether on alto or soprano. Parisi is an able sidekick, soloing with assurance on every track but “Ernastine,” on which the quintet is pared to a quartet, and Wilder is consistently brilliant when given an opportunity to shine, as he is on a number of occasions.
Although unfamiliar, the music is quite pleasant and well-written with enough variation in mood and tempo to nourish almost anyone’s interest. If I am partial to the burners (“Wablin’,” “City Scope”), that’s only because I grew up listening to Bird, Diz, Clifford, the Messengers and other exponents of chops-busting calisthenics, not because anything else on offer is less than agreeable. In fact, there are pleasures of many stripes from blues (“For BooDee”) to ballad (“Silent Summer Storm”), gospel (“Upbeat & Busted”) to Latin (“Life with Nedaj”) and even a hint of the Middle East on “Temple of Faith.” In sum, an absorbing discourse among five talented musicians with many provocative things to say.
Track Listing: Sertan to Amsterdam; Green Card; Temple of Faith; Leading the Blind; City Scope; Silent Summer Storm; Blues for BooDee; Ernastine; Life with Nedaj; Wablin
Personnel: Dan Thomas, alto, soprano saxophone; Joe Parisi (1-7, 9-11), trumpet; Roger Wilder, piano; Bram Wijnands, bass; Jim Eriksen, drums.
Record Label: Independent Records