184

East West Quintet: Unusual Customs

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
East West Quintet: Unusual Customs The East West Quintet plays hard bop for the 21st Century, combining solid swing with smart writing, assured improvising, and a tight band sound. Unusual Customs is the group's debut CD, and it's a good one.

The East West Quintet's strongest suit is its rhythm section. Bassist Ben Campbell and drummer Matt Slocum lay down a comfortable carpet of cookin' motion and movement. Even when the improvisation flags, they keep the music churning ahead with reliable swing. Even the very fast tempo of "Romp Roast" sounds relaxed and effortless. And they don't overplay; there isn't a wasted note.

In fact, nobody overplays. There is an economical, uncluttered feel to all the improvisation here. However, there are moments when the solos sound like they've stalled a bit, when the relaxation is probably just tentativeness. Overall, these young musicians sound best at medium or medium-up tunes such as the blues "Piston Honda," on which alto saxophonist Dylan Heaney fashions a cagey, stutter-stepping improvisation marked by thoughtful use of hesitation, space, and riffs.

Throughout, Heaney is a consistently interesting musician. He has a tart tone that sounds a bit sweeter on ballads. On faster tracks Heaney seems to nibble at the edges of his notes, as if experimenting with intonation in the manner of Ornette Coleman or Jackie McLean. Guitarist Simon Kafka has a clean, ringing tone. At fast tempos, he tends to be somewhat repetitive. Pianist Mike Cassedy is consistently effective.

The other strong suit of this band is the writing. All the musicians except Slocum contribute material. The writing is clever and varied, and each original has an attractive melody. The ballad "Joys And Sorrows" is especially heartfelt.

Make no mistake, Unusual Customs is a good record. But it is one of many such discs afloat in the new mainstream; its hip swing and solid writing are strong virtues, but not singular ones.


Track Listing: Piston Honda; Be Who You Is; Come Sunday; Unusual Customs; Southern Belle; Work Song; Joys And Sorrows; Romp Roast; Breakfast Dance.

Personnel: Dylan Heaney: alto saxophone; Simon Kafka: guitar; Mike Cassedy: piano; Ben Campbell: bass; Matt Slocum: drums.

Title: Unusual Customs | Year Released: 2005


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Masters In Bordeaux CD/LP/Track Review Masters In Bordeaux
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 19, 2017
Read On Parade In Parede CD/LP/Track Review On Parade In Parede
by John Sharpe
Published: August 19, 2017
Read Good Merlin CD/LP/Track Review Good Merlin
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: August 19, 2017
Read I Believe In You CD/LP/Track Review I Believe In You
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 18, 2017
Read Morning Sun CD/LP/Track Review Morning Sun
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 18, 2017
Read The Conscience CD/LP/Track Review The Conscience
by John Sharpe
Published: August 18, 2017
Read "Crop Circles" CD/LP/Track Review Crop Circles
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 16, 2017
Read "Ensam" CD/LP/Track Review Ensam
by Ian Patterson
Published: August 26, 2016
Read "Fugitive Beauté" CD/LP/Track Review Fugitive Beauté
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 11, 2016
Read "Serious Play" CD/LP/Track Review Serious Play
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 3, 2017
Read "Mortality" CD/LP/Track Review Mortality
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 11, 2016
Read "Lionsong" CD/LP/Track Review Lionsong
by David A. Orthmann
Published: April 18, 2017

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.