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The San Francisco ChamberJazz Quartet: SFCJQ (2005)

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The San Francisco ChamberJazz Quartet: SFCJQ How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

This is the second release by the San Francisco ChamberJazz Quartet, which is led by pianist and composer Gini Wilson (also called "The Duchess") and reedman Steve Heckman, who was heard to fine advantage on his own recent release, Live at Yoshi's. Most of the compositions were written by Gini Wilson and to her credit, the music reflects international influences.

The album begins with a samba, "Amor Un Poco Tragico." Heckman states the melody on soprano sax along with fine piano work from Wilson, understated vocalese from highly regarded jazz vocalist guest Jackie Ryan, and drumming by Ron Marabuto. Wilson provides the melody on "Morning Song of A Falcon" and then solos, followed by Heckman's soprano. "Maybe" has a bit of a tango feel; it features Heckman's first appearance on tenor sax, which he plays most lyrically. Ryan is featured on "Separate Ways," with sympatico tenor work from Steve Heckman, as well as the more playful "Lucky Monkey," done as an up-tempo blues, with Heckman again lifting her vocals.

"Suave Duqueza" was written for Gini Wilson by Amandio Cabral. It's given a bossa nova dressing and features solos from Wilson, bassist Pat Klobas, and Heckman (his only appearance on clarinet). Shifting gears, the next two titles, "The Promenade" and "Mussorgsky in Marrakesh," are borrowed from Mussorgsky's "Pictures At An Exhibition" with Wilson arrangements. Guest Badr Karram performs on dumbek and Heckman's soprano provides the sound of a Near Eastern marketplace. Closer to home, Steve Heckman picks up his tenor sax for a tribute to Oakland, California on "O Town Blues," which discards any previous international flavoring. The result is a toe-tapping quartet performance.

Track Listing: Un Amor Un Poco Tragico; Morning Song Of A Falcon; Maybe; Separate Ways; Lucky Monkey; Suave Duquesa (Smooth Duchess); Someday Your Smile; Promenade (segue); Mussorgsky in Marrakesh; Let It Rain; O Town Blues; Lucky Monkey (instrumental).

Personnel: Gini Wilson (The Duchess): piano; Steve Heckman: soprano and tenor saxophones, clarinet, flute; Pat Klobas: bass; Ron Marabuto: drums. Special guests Jackie Ryan: vocals; Badr Kerram: dumbek.

Record Label: Music Wizards

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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