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Los Angeles Jazz Quartet: Family Song

Jim Santella By

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The Los Angeles Jazz Quartet performs original compositions that relate their 3rd album to family and close friends. As with most of modern mainstream acoustic jazz, the compositions are used as a basis from which the artists improvise. That they’ve been together for six years is evident from the manner in which each artist supports the others. Guitarist Larry Koonse lays down fluid lines that serve as a foundation for the unit’s harmony. His improvisations are equally fluid, but with detailed and spontaneous exposition. Tenor saxophonist Chuck Manning offers a gentle breathy approach at times to evoke certain moods; elsewhere he rips off featured solos that provide stark contrast. Bassist Darek Oles fills several roles, each of them quite lyrical. When walking the bass, taking a romantic solo, or laying down a syncopated riff, his work is always in tandem with the melody. Drummer Kevin Tullius fills in beside the others, comps accordingly for soloists, and stretches out during fours and other solo work.

Not Two Records is Marek Winiarski’s label, located in Krakow, Poland. Winiarski produced the LAJQ’s first album, Astarte, as well as this one. Their second album and upcoming fourth album are both on the NAXOS label. More information about the LAJQ may be found at http://www.naxosmusic.com/cat/86009.htm .

Engaging in group improvisation for "Briggs," the quartet lights solemn fires. It’s a unique piece with equal input from the quartet’s four members. Also containing a fair amount of drama is "Resurgence," an up-tempo piece in the hard bop idiom with off-kilter bass work. Manning and Koonse stretch out considerably. Four ballads emphasize the quartet’s penchant for melodic beauty: "Family Song," "Winding Road," in memory of bassist Eric von Essen, "Rachel and Sarah," dedicated to Koonse’s young daughters, and "A Tear from New York." Up-tempo swingers "The Honeymoon" and "Message from Roit" pick things up with a walking bass, ride cymbal, and foot tappin’ energy. Each artist pumps something extra into the formula: a subtle change in the harmony by guitar, a brief rudimentary snare drum fill, or a bass double-stop. The LAJQ is carrying on the tradition of classic acoustic mainstream jazz while incorporating original compositions and spontaneous thoughts.


Track Listing: Family Song; Briggs; Message from Roit; Resurgence; Winding Road; A Tear from New York; The Honeymoon; Rachel and Sarah.

Personnel: Larry Koonse- guitar; Darek "Oles" Oleszkiewicz- bass; Kevin Tullius- drums; Chuck Manning- tenor sax, soprano sax on "A Tear from New York."

Title: Family Song | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Not Two Records


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