Thursday, March 16, 2006

Liam Sillery Quintet: Minor Changes

OA2 Records
By Ric Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 3.16.06
Buy CD: Minor Changes

Liam Sillery is relatively unknown outside the New Jersey/New York area. He was born in a New Jersey suburb; attended the University of South Florida, where he received a bachelor's degree in music; then settled in New York and became exposed to jazz via artists such as Joe Henderson and Red Rodney. 

Sillery worked in that arena for 10 years, attending the Manhattan School of Music in his spare time. 

When I first played this CD, I thought I'd accidentally chosen an older, 1960s-vintage disc from my collection. This quintet's instrumentation is the standard trumpet/flugelhorn, tenor sax, piano, bass and drums that was so popular in that era. 

The ensemble work features trumpet and sax playing the primary theme in unison, and then each musician gets a solo before the track ends by revisiting the primary theme. The CD has seven tracks, six originals — written by Sillery — and one old standard ("You Are So Beautiful"). 

Except for the latter, which is a trumpet solo, each follows the above-mentioned unison/solos/ unison treatment. That becomes monotonous after awhile. 

The musicians are competent and relaxed, and they've obviously played together for a long time. 

But their solo work never rises above average, and that's also true of Sillery. He sounds like a blend of Chet Baker and Red Rodney (an early influence), but never wanders into Rodney's hard-bop style. 

That makes the group pleasant, but dated. You wouldn't take this CD off the changer if you walked into a room, but I doubt you'd play it again.

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