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.

Year Released: 2005 | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Groove Dreams CD/LP/Track Review Groove Dreams
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Kami Fusen CD/LP/Track Review Kami Fusen
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Two CD/LP/Track Review Two
by Joe Gatto
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Galaxies Like Grains Of Sand CD/LP/Track Review Galaxies Like Grains Of Sand
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Nightfall CD/LP/Track Review Nightfall
by John Kelman
Published: May 22, 2017
Read Pekka CD/LP/Track Review Pekka
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 22, 2017
Read "Dharma" CD/LP/Track Review Dharma
by Dave Wayne
Published: August 19, 2016
Read "America's National Parks" CD/LP/Track Review America's National Parks
by John Sharpe
Published: November 11, 2016
Read "Energy - Saul Losada" CD/LP/Track Review Energy - Saul Losada
by Paul Naser
Published: March 15, 2017
Read "Live North America 2016" CD/LP/Track Review Live North America 2016
by Doug Collette
Published: March 18, 2017
Read "Pastures" CD/LP/Track Review Pastures
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 26, 2016
Read "Secular Hymns" CD/LP/Track Review Secular Hymns
by John Eyles
Published: September 10, 2016
comments powered by Disqus

Why wait?

Support All About Jazz and we'll deliver exclusive content, hide ads, hide slide-outs, and provide read access to our future articles.

Buy it!