Waltzes, Two-Steps & Other Matters of the Heart is the final recording from the “Gerry Hemingway Quintet” which was perhaps among the finest and most prolific modern or “new” jazz groups of the 90’s. The music represented here is culled from the band’s European and somewhat grueling 1996 tour.
The set opens with “Waltz in Seven” which is scored in 7/4 time as the band combine traditional romanticism with modern jazz motifs. Here, the Quintet take on the appearance of an errant classical group employing a swing beat. The melody gradually evolves as Michael Moore’s trademark, sweet-toned clarinet phrasing along with Hemingway’s gentle brushwork maintain a deliberate yet light-as-a-feather pulse. Second nature and intuitiveness are wholly evident on “Full Off”. - Hemingway’s melodic approach to drumming combined with the world beating bassist Mark Dresser and his distinguished counterpart, cellist Ernst Reijseger adhere to similar gradients via linear development and tight, disciplined coordination while providing the fertile underpinnings for Wolter Wierbos’ soaring trombone soloing. “Gitar” is a unusual foray into neo-classicism complete with Hemingway’s haunting harmonica performance mainly residing in the background as this piece transitions into a forum for the soloists to stretch, accompanied by Hemingway’s prominently penetrating back-beat. “XI” is a lovely re-orchestration of a madrigal by composer Carlo Gesualdo while “Toombow” features some magnificent percussion/drum work by Hemingway who dishes out tasty Latin, African and Western style polyrhythms along with contrasting undercurrents. Here, Moore on alto sax and Wierbos perform gleeful themes and memorable melody lines in somewhat of a climactic fashion. The final piece, “Ari” is a traditional Bavarian waltz yet the ever inventive Quintet playfully deconstruct the waltz motif aided by Hemingway’s quick-witted drumming as he swaggers, shuffles and has a little fun with convention.
Sadly, the Quintet is no more, yet Waltzes, Two-Steps & Other Matters of the Heart is a brilliant finale for a band who’s pursuit of excellence is unrivaled as they seldom ceased to amaze their loyal fan base. “The Gerry Hemingway Quintet” maintained a style and sound which was clearly their own. That alone, deserves praise in a world where conformation seems overly acceptable.............. One of the top releases of 1999!!! * * * * *