How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
It's the overall creamy texture of the sound and the effortless vibe created by guitarist Piers Lawrence that makes Stolen Moments such an enjoyable listen. This is one together quartet whose mastery of group dynamics captures your attention right away with a short but effervescent rendering of Sonny Rollins' "Pent-Up House." Lawrence, who is a fluid and even-handed picker, flaunts some sprightly creative runs on Bird's "Donna Lee," has his sweet sound to the forefront on an up-tempo presentation of the Doris Day vocal hit "Secret Love" and provides a delightfully mysterious rendering of bassist Jaco Pastorius' "Reza."
In between are a sprinkling of originals that deftly mix Latin rhythm into the straight ahead slot of "Samba Christina" and straddle pop-balladry with the soulful "Dimanche" and tender "Everytime." The music draws its cohesiveness from the experienced rhythm section that Lawrence has enlisted for this session. Pianist Chuk Fowler, bassist Jim Hankins and drummer Sir Earl Grice each have a long list of credentials that include anchoring the soul-infused grooves of guitarists like Wes Montgomery and George Benson. While they impress most with their collective platform, allowing Lawrence to set the course, Hankins' bass shines with a few stolen moments of his own. This is especially true on the title cut, as he deconstructs what is otherwise a superbly melodic treatment of this classic Oliver Nelson composition. When Lawrence rejoins, it is with a luxurious tone that attains vibe-like purity, a timbre he maintains throughout the album.
These pros are well suited to this music and execute the difficult task of making it seem unforced with a sound that is not flashy, but goes down easy like a sweet liqueur.