Monday, August 22, 2011

Fowser/Gillece Quintet

Ken Fowser (sax)
Behn Gillece (vibes)
Duotone (Posi-Tone Records; 2011)
Willie Jones (drums)
Donald Vega (piano)
David Wong (bass)

Did I mention its be a great year for music?

I have been waiting for the new Fowser/Gillece Quintet record for 8 months now. And this week it arrived. And I have to say it's a cracker! Supported by the third in a revolving lineup, Duotone (Posi-Tone) is superb. The lineup change doesn't affect the quality of Fowser and Gillece's compositions; The bandmates seem to slide in perfectly.

The opener, "Overcooked" swings with a lot of force. Vega and Wong add a nice thumbing punch to hard bop number. Fowser and Gillece let the members shine from the outset while they both move in and out of the piece gently but with enough punctuation for the listener to know which path to follow. "Spontaneity" and "Attachment" both deliver on the calm relaxed nature of  Behn Gilllece's writing. They are both well inviting midtempo numbers, which see that Gillece and Vega having direct interchanges that make for one of those cool night club moments. The reason why you appreciate good jazz played supremely.

The chemistry between Fowser and Gillece was established years ago before they even started their recording careers. But over the short span of three years they have established themselves as a creative duo that continues to grow with each record. The changing of bandmates for each record shows how in demand they are to work with. "In The Twilight" is a beautiful motif that sees Gillece taking the forefront like Milt Jackson. And like Jackson, he is changing the vibes into more than just instrument. It's become a part of the group theory. This piece would sound flat without the addition of the creative notes Gillece has applied. Fowser adds a tone that could settle somewhere between 'Trane and the giant Dexter Gordon. "One For G" sees Fowser performing with bold ambition and directness. It's a well balanced piece which all the band tend to have an opportunity to shine and well placed, sequence wise, as the last track.

Obvious Milt Jackson and John Coltrane comparisons will always come up with a duo like Fowser and Gillece but they have managed to create pieces that sit in tradition but are clearly modern and hard enough to make the distinction that these two are no revivalists. I always try to recommend albums that can be universally appreciated inside and outside of jazz circles. Duotone is far and above one of those albums. For me it will be one of our albums of the year. A true must listen for all music fans. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

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