Denis DiBlasio Quintet: Where the Jade Buddha Lives (2011)
Of course the right musicians need to be picked; and for Where the Jade Buddha Lives, Diblasio has rounded up a stellar rhythm section headed by pianist Ron Thomasthe piano trio responsible for the superb Music in Three Parts (Art of Life, 2006). They are a flexible and highly interactive crew that combines a feeling for freedom with an unerring instinct for ethereal beauty. Drummer Joe Mullen and bassist Paul Klinefelter are leaders in their own right; having played extensively with Thomas, the familiarity and telepathy show.
Opening with "Distressing Disguise," DiBlasio and his front line partner, trombonist Jim McFalls, ride a fluid forward momentum with some smooth unison blowing, leading into McFall's smooth-as-butter solo. Thomas follows the melody in a reactive mode, like a slow motion jazz version of the playground game crack-the-whip. Here, and throughout the set, spontaneity is the name of the game; these in-the-moment songspoints of view upon which the band members improvisecan't have been rehearsed a lot, and the music has a freshness for it.
"Buonarroti's Ceiling" is a meditative exploration of the mood brought on by an encounter with the Sistine Chapel, conveying a sense of awe and wonder. DiBlasio's solo ruminates in a cool tone, while Thomas and Klinefelter delve into a deeply reverent conversation, with Mullen whispering in the background.
On Rimsky Korsakov's "Song of India"the only non-original on the set and featuring some magical piano/flute interplay, with DiBlasio switching from baritone sax to bass flute. The title tune, inspired by DiBlasio's visit to Thailand with the Maynard Ferguson Band, has a feeling of subdued, stealthy grandeur, with a tranquil Eastern tinge.
For the closing "The Long Goodbye," DiBlasio suggests the note F to the group: not the key of F, but the note. The result is a ballad that blossoms patiently and beautifully, with Thomas sprinkling raindrops on the petals of McFall's stretched-out trombone notes. A gorgeous goodbye.
Track Listing: Distressing Disguises; Buonarroti's Ceiling; Teach Me I Dare You; Baby Dom; Song of India; The Truth Will Out; Where the Jade Budhha Lives; The Puppy's Not Cute Anymore; The Long Goodbye.
Personnel: Denis DiBlasio: baritone saxophone, bass flute; Paul Klinefelter: acoustic bass; Jim McFalls: trombone; Joe Mullen: drums; Ron Thomas: piano.
Record Label: Art of Life Records