Thursday, April 5, 2007

Liam Sillery and the David Sills Quartet: On the Fly

OA2 Records
By Ric Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 4.5.07
Buy CD: On the Fly

Trumpeter Liam Sillery is another of today's musicians who has developed his skills during an extensive college educational program. Born in New Jersey, he attended the University of South Florida and graduated in 1992. 

He returned to New Jersey and, during the next 10 years, played with a number of jazz groups in the New York area. In 2002, he entered the Manhattan School of Music, graduating in 2004. During that period he met David Sills, a gifted tenor sax player with his own quartet. 

Sillery joined the group — which consisted of Sills, Joe Bagg (organ), Larry Koonse (guitar) and Tim Pleasant (drums) — for this release. Sillery plays both trumpet and flugelhorn. 

All but one of the tracks are originals written and arranged by either Sillery or Sills; the result is a pleasant, moderately swinging session. The musicians are excellent, the ensemble work is clean, and the solos are more than adequate. 

But the use of an organ has a significant effect on the group's jazz "feel." Bagg is as good as any organist playing today, but because it's not possible to play that instrument "crisply" (compared to a piano), all the arrangements are a little too laid-back for my taste. Koonse does his best to raise the excitement level, but even he isn't capable of making this group really swing. 

"Down the Line" gives an indication of what might have been, but it's the only track that kept my full attention. It's frustrating ... I know these guys are capable of better.

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