Why some artists achieve the recognition they deserve while other equally talented ones don't depends on many things. But one thing is clear, that obscurity does not always mean lack of talent. Regardless, it is always a pleasure to discover little known but immensely gifted musicians and it is really a great pleasure to hear the reissue of The Diamond Five's Brilliant!.
The Diamond Five, a Dutch quintet led by pianist Cees Slinger, was founded in 1959 and lasted until 1965. They were based at the Sheherazade Club in Amsterdam and were quite popular, playing all over Holland and accompanying expatriate American musicians on their visits to Amsterdam. However, when the club closed its doors due to a shift in popular interest from jazz to rock music, the quintet disbanded. This 1964 recording is their only session available on CD. The music is hard bop on the surface, but is neither formulaic nor a copy of the genres imported from the U.S.
The musicians are quite unique in their style. Slinger plays sparse notes on his solos, utilizing well-placed pauses in the music to create melodic hard bop with hints of more forward-looking styles. The other outstanding soloist is tenor saxophonist Harry Verbeke, whose solos (in contrast to that of the leader) are filled with a multitude of notes played in the modal vein. The others are also quite stellar, the bass and the drums providing a loose bluesy support and horn man Cees Smal adding something unique with the sounds of his different horns, switching between valve trombone, cornet and trumpet.
Two highlights are "Lutuli, by composer Ruud Bos and the final track "Monosyl, composed by Smal. This is a beautiful record and a timely reissue, with crystal clear sound from an extremely talented but sorely under-recognized European group that yet again underscores the universality of jazz.