Pianist Kelly Brand’s second album is as tastefully cooked as her first ( A Dream in a Stone ), with crisp blowing by front–liners Art Davis and Lou Stockwell and sure–handed support from Brand, bassist / husband Kelly Sill and drummers Tim Davis or Eric Montzka. A “nextet,” by the way, can be either a trio (Rodgers and Hart’s “My Funny Valentine,” Chick Corea’s “Tones for Joan’s Bones”), quartet (“An Old Road”) or quintet (the four other tracks). Brand, Sill and Tim Davis comprise the trio, Art Davis makes it a foursome on “Old Road,” while Tim Davis keeps steady time on three of the quintet numbers and Eric Montzka does likewise on the curtain–raising bopper, “Sister Luna,” and “Old Road,” which were recorded in ’98, a year earlier than the other selections. Brand, who writes a pretty melody, authored those two numbers and “The Gatespinner,“ Bobby Hutcherson wrote “For You Mom and Dad” and the late Roland Kirk composed the bluesy finale, “Gifts and Messages.” Brand is an able accompanist who knows how to shape a charming and coherent solo (listen, for example, to her buoyant treatises on “Sister Luna,” “Tones for Joan’s Bones” and “Gatespinner” or her wistful commentary on “Funny Valentine”), and it’s always a pleasure to hear Art Davis, one of the Chicago area’s most talented trumpeters. Stockwell, an ardent post–bopper from the Joe Henderson / Michael Brecker school, has some arresting moments, especially on “Sister Luna” (he plays soprano on “Gatespinner”), while Sill is heard to good advantage on “Old Road,” “Tones” and “Gatespinner.” Solid, straight–ahead and accessible Jazz by a like–minded group of talented young Chicagoans.
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