Thursday, June 11, 2015

Don Aliquo/Clay Jenkins Quintet: New Ties and Binds

By Ric Bang
Buy CD: New Ties and Binds

As the title of this release implies, we’re not dealing with any standards on this session. All the charts are by members of the quintet: Tenor saxman Don Aliquo wrote four, while his colleagues — trumpeter Clay Jenkins, pianist Harold Danko, bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Jim White — each contributed one. 

Each musician’s resume could fill an entire page. Jenkins has worked with Harry James, Buddy Rich, Count Basie and the Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. Danko has supported Woody Herman, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis and myriad groups led by icons such as Gerry Mulligan, Lee Konitz and Chet Baker. Reid has been part of units fronted by Art Farmer, Stan Getz and Jack DeJohnette. With respect to Australian-born White, it’s easier to say, “You name an Aussie group; he played with them.” Aliquo, finally, is a well-known sideman and teacher in the Tennessee area.

This quintet’s style is complex straight-ahead: The melodic lines, chords and key-changes keep the artists and listeners on their toes. The various arrangements’ unison sections must have been written, as they’re too complicated to commit to memory.

Most of the charts are mid- to up-tempo, and they all swing nicely. Reid deserves much of the credit; some bassists may play more creative solos, but none is more steady. Additionally, Reid is a great “producer,” meaning that he has a great talent for getting the most out of any group with which he plays.

All in all, this is an intriguing and engaging album. Give it a shot.

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