Sept./Oct. 2004

Lenny Solomon Quintet Transparency CD release
October 20, 2004The Rex Jazz & Blues BarToronto

It all starts with O Susannah. The slow, liquid, outpouring of the violin's voice keening over the hills while the wagons roll out of the Appalachian spring towards the great western plains. Many of the tunes on this album are traditional, based on the reel, the jig, the rag, the air: the tightly arranged opening and closing bars made of phrases tightly metered and repetitive, the stanzas so regular that the melodies, often led by Solomon's violin, make you feel the presence of lyrics that may not even be there.

Then the solos break: Pat Collins' walking bass, Geoff Young's cool guitar, Phil Dwyer's elegant, swinging piano, the spare click of sticks on rim and cymbal splashes of Barry Romberg's drum kit ripple out, driving sounds of the jazz of today, and then back in comes the emotive cry of the violin solo, pure in tone, certain in execution of virtuoso riffs, and sometimes swinging, almost. The tunes are enclosed and carried off in the same tight traditional arranged structures they came in on. A strange marriage of December and May, yesteryear and today.

Tunes by Stephen Foster, George Gershwin, Hoagy Carmichael, Joe Venuti and some originals by Geoff Young and Lenny Solomon, notably the title tune, Transparency, some co-written and arranged by Shelly Berger who substituted on bass during the CD release at the Rex Jazz Bar in Toronto, on October 20. The strange thing is the performances during the live event had that swing that was missing on the CD. Was it the missing cello that lightened the melodic load? It surely wasn't that Tom Szczesniak who plays well, plays piano better than Phil Dwyer. So the answer must be the freedom born of live performance with a live audience and a spirit of celebration that makes jazz jazz.

Report by Stanley Fefferman – Photo by Roger Humbert
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