All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Live Reviews

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

3

The Power Quintet at Jazz Standard

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
The Power Quintet
Jazz Standard
New York, NY
December 3, 2016

The age of the collective-minded outfit in jazz is upon us. While the concept of democratically-driven bands is hardly new or unique, more and more artists seem to be taking to the idea with gusto, pooling their talents and resources for the greater good. Such artistic and business arrangements give everybody an opportunity to share in the responsibility load, play multiple roles all at once, and use their distinctive personality traits to good advantage in a group, without the worries that come with point-person leadership. The Power Quintet—the all-star combination of trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, vibraphonist Steve Nelson, pianist Danny Grissett, bassist Peter Washington, and drummer Bill Stewart—aspires to such ideals and heights.

This new venture, born on a fairly recent European tour and documented on High Art (HighNote Records 2016), is built to deliver high-octane jazz in a pleasurable post-bop vein. That fact was made crystal clear during the late set on the band's second night of a multi-night run at New York's Jazz Standard. Pelt's horn sounded the alarm that set off his own "Baswald's Place," and the band immediately responded in kind with some hard-driving swing. The trumpeter's blustery blowing, with horn bell swallowing the mic, set the scene before he relinquished the stage to Nelson and Grissett. The vibraphonist and pianist had ears wide open, as one played off of the ping-ponging octaves that the other doled out, and each served up stellar solos before Pelt returned to bring it on home.

A more relaxed swing feel took hold when the quintet moved on to "Ascona," the first of several tracks in the set that appear on High Art. Pelt took a more lyrical approach, keeping his distance from the microphone and dialing-down the intensity, and Nelson and Grissett followed suit. All the while, Washington and Stewart kept things moving smoothly with sterling support.

The head-solos-head formula proved to be the bread-and-butter for this band, as many songs were essentially blowing tunes. But the high-level soloing, mutable comping, and little twists took the music a step past most performances in this structural realm. As the set played out, the quintet continued to tweak moods and styles. A hypnotic introduction gave way to intense offerings on the follow-up to "Ascona." Stewart's four-on-the-floor hi-hat pulse and floor tom punctuations brought Tony Williams to mind, Pelt delivered a powerful solo punctuated by silences that served as breathers, Grissett took a more firm-handed approach to his piano spot, and strong interplay was evident in the music.

After engaging in such heated musical discourse, the quintet slowed things down for a gorgeously-rendered "But Beautiful." Stewart's brushes painted fragility, Washington stepped out for his lone solo of the night, and every other soloist traced around the melody and changes without ever going all-in for those familiar strains. It was a welcome respite from The Power Quintet's power playing, but only a brief detour. Monk's quirky "We See" brought them back to bop-based swing, but it was hardly a standard Monk affair. Nelson caught fire, even throwing in a quick "Surrey With The Fringe On Top" quote during a double-time run, and Stewart brilliantly flirted with metric modulation in several ways and at several times. The drummer's solo—his only true off-the-leash moment of the night—was a clear highlight. His chops, clarity, and independence are second to none, and he proved that in no time. While it's still too early to know if this band will continue, the promise shown with its debut and on-the-bandstand dynamics certainly warrant future work.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

In Pictures
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Jive Culture

Jive Culture

HighNote Records
2016

buy
 Tales, Musings, and Other Reveries

Tales, Musings, and...

HighNote Records
2015

buy
Face Forward, Jeremy

Face Forward, Jeremy

HighNote Records
2014

buy
Water And Earth

Water And Earth

HighNote Records
2013

buy
Soul

Soul

HighNote Records
2012

buy
The Talented Mr. Pelt

The Talented Mr. Pelt...

HighNote Records
2011

buy

Related Articles

Read European Jazz Conference 2018 Live Reviews
European Jazz Conference 2018
by Ian Patterson
Published: September 25, 2018
Read The Magpie Salute At The Grand Point North Festival 2018 Live Reviews
The Magpie Salute At The Grand Point North Festival 2018
by Doug Collette
Published: September 23, 2018
Read Chris Isaak at The Paramount in Huntington, NY Live Reviews
Chris Isaak at The Paramount in Huntington, NY
by Christine Connallon
Published: September 23, 2018
Read Detroit Jazz Festival 2018 Live Reviews
Detroit Jazz Festival 2018
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: September 19, 2018
Read Beethoven, Barber and Vivaldi at The Jazz Corner Live Reviews
Beethoven, Barber and Vivaldi at The Jazz Corner
by Martin McFie
Published: September 18, 2018
Read Bryan Ferry at the Macedonian Philharmonic Hall, Macedonia 2018 Live Reviews
Bryan Ferry at the Macedonian Philharmonic Hall, Macedonia...
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: September 16, 2018
Read "Jazztopad Festival 2017" Live Reviews Jazztopad Festival 2017
by Henning Bolte
Published: December 13, 2017
Read "Jim Ridl: Project 142 at the DiMenna Center" Live Reviews Jim Ridl: Project 142 at the DiMenna Center
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: October 25, 2017
Read "David Amram 87th Birthday Celebration at the Falcon" Live Reviews David Amram 87th Birthday Celebration at the Falcon
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: December 6, 2017
Read "Moers Festival 2018" Live Reviews Moers Festival 2018
by Martin Longley
Published: July 27, 2018