Thursday, July 2, 2009

Tom Knific Quartet: Lines of Influence

Azica Records
By Ric Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 7.2.09
Buy CD: Lines of Influence

Some time ago, I reviewed two albums featuring groups from the Western Michigan School of Music: Mayan Myths, by the Western Jazz Quartet; and Boogaloo Land, by one of the institution's big bands. Both were highly rated, and this CD also is associated with that swinging school of learning.

The Tom Knific Quartet consists of individuals who were, or are, students, alumni or faculty members. Knific is the leader and bassist; his brother John is the pianist, Keith Hall is the drummer, Chris Beckstrom plays sax, and Ryan Andrews also handles percussion.

In addition to their work on this release, all have other significant involvements. Tom Knific has played with numerous name artists and groups, and is a key member of the WMU faculty; John Knific is a pre-med student and juggles that demand with a performing career.

Beckstrom scores films in the Chicago area; Hall is a faculty colleague at WMU and a private percussion teacher; and Andrews still is a student at WMU. They did this CD in their “spare” time.

All but two of the seven tracks were composed and arranged by a member of the ensemble; the exceptions are The Beatles' “Eleanor Rigby” and Joshua Redman's “Can a Good Thing Last Forever?” The opening track (“Eidas Retsis”) is a “reversed” remake of the jazz standard “Sister Sadie.”

All in all, this is a neat, swinging album by a group of multi-talented, artists.

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