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Five Play: Live at the Deer Head Inn

Richard J Salvucci By

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I haven't been to the Delaware Water Gap in Pennsylvania in years. But if I make it there, I hope to time my visit to coincide with Five Play at theDeer Head Inn, which bills itself as the "oldest continuously running jazz club in the country." Long may it prosper, for there are good musical things happening there.

Big bands and their leaders have always had small groups:from Benny Goodman to Stan Kenton, and Woody Herman and Tommy Dorsey included.

This is the first time I've heard Five Play in this configuration. I was pleasantly surprised. They give you a lot of looks, some Blakeyish, some Ornette, and some distinctively themselves. The can bop, swing and bossa, sometimes in disconcerting juxtaposition.And they do their share of originals. Nothing staid about their repertoire.

The live set opens with that famous jazz standard "Que sera,sera." I'm being facetious. It's been a few years since I heard it, and certainly not the arch reading that Fiveplay gives it. There are romping solos by Tomoko Ohno and Noriko Ueda, two thirds of a seriously cooking rhythm section. Janelle Reichman , who doubles on clarinet and tenor sax makes a nice statement. Reichman's clarinet playing is, to say the least, technically assured, but it can be quite beautiful and thoughtful as well, as her solo on "I'm in the Mood for Love" shows. She takes a long solo on "Struttin' With Some Barbecue" as does Jami Dauber who plays very nice and extremely tasteful jazz. Her trumpet lead gives the group a much bigger sound and presence than I would've expected. As to adventuresomeness, the originals by Ohno and Ueda are supplemented by "Bao Dat May Troi," a Vietnamese folk song that works very well. There is the traditional Shenandoah, beautifully played too. I will never accuse Maricle of sticking to the tried and true with Diva, her big band, again.

As for Sherrie, well, Sherrie plays like Sherrie. For someone ostensibly inspired by Buddy Rich, she is awfully musical. She really plays the drums, including the bass drum, in a way that I'd associate more with Mel Lewis. Her brushwork is inspired and occasionally, her time just seems to float. But she has help. Dauber plays a wonderfully reflective muted solo on "I'm in the Mood for Love" that put me in mind of Warren Vache not that she needs anyone's endorsement.

You want up-tempo shouting? The session closes out with "Organ Grinder's Swing" which really gets rolling, propelled by hot choruses by Dauber and Reichman. Everyone gets into the act.

So there's a lot of good stuff going on in the recording, and it opens up to further thought as you listen over again, always the mark of something special. These are remarkably talented musicians, and to put it in Maricle's terms, they swing hard, but make it sound easy. I have only one question. What if the group is short Dauber or Reichman some night? What do you call the quartet? Let me guess.

Track Listing: Que Sera Sera; Struttin' With Some Barbecue; I'm In the Mood for Love; Bao Dat May Troi; Seesaw; La Americana; Shenandoah; Organ Grinder's Swing

Personnel: Sherrie Maricle (D); Jami Dauber (TPT); Janelle Riechman (T Sax/CL); Tomoko Ohno (P); Noriko Ueda (B)

Title: Live at the Deer Head Inn | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Deer Head Records

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