May 2007

Classic Beauties
Daniel Barnes Quintet Classic Beauties CD release
May 23, 2007 Live@Courthouse Toronto
Guardians of Bebop
by Paul J. Youngman with photos by Mike Colyer
Drummer, composer and arranger Daniel Barnes joined forces with his fine quintet May 22 and 23, to formally release their newest offering, Classic Beauties, at the grand new home of jazz, the elegant nightclub, Live@Courthouse. I attended the second night of the CD release party. The band was tight, playing with a lot of power. The live band was the same as the band featured on the CD with one exception, bassist Drew Birston replaced Kieran Overs. The other members of the band were, Richard Underhill, alto saxophone, William Sperandei, trumpet and Robi Botos on piano.

The show got underway in dramatic fashion. The band arrived on stage, Barnes counted the number in and the band started out of the gate with “Short Bop”, a powerful, driving melody with excellent horn arrangements. The song was swinging, the trumpet was striking — a sit up and take notice trumpet break developed over the course of sixteen bars, fantastic playing from William Sperandei, setting the bar for the other members of the quintet and serving notice that we were in for a treat of brass delectables.

Richard Underhill a veteran jazz master on alto saxophone in the bop idiom, was up for any challenge. In classic Underhill fashion he took the next break of the “Short Bop” and sounding somewhere in the middle of Parker and Desmond, raised the roof just a bit higher. Robi Botos was at the ready and came on strong during his introduction, he played with melodic exuberance, firing off syncopated runs and hammering out percussive chords, sounding like a man on a mission to pay tribute to bop piano players. Monk, Harris, Powell, Tyner and a few others were drawn to mind, Robi Botos is a classic beauty of a piano virtuoso.

Daniel Barnes sat back and grooved on his creation, he seemed thoroughly enthused with what he was witnessing, leading and contributing to the performance throughout. There were some wonderful exchanges between members of the rhythm section, Drew Birston on acoustic bass held the foundation firmly in place even while exploring passionately the different intonations of his instrument. During the lush ballad “Mademoiselle Fuller”, all members of the band played wonderfully, Drew Birston in particular, he showed how solid he can be and his playing was extremely spirited.

Daniel Barnes

Robi Botos
The song “Ogopogo”, all about “Cold, Dark, Deep Water,” as stated by Daniel Barnes in the introduction to the song, was not all that scary. It has a catchy rhythm and a great sound. The song allows for inspirational break out playing on piano and alto saxophone. Mr. Underhill played an amazing saxophone solo with blistering fast runs, wonderful sustain and howling, growling tones of delightfully enchanting saxophonic brilliance. It was a monster of a song with everybody on the same page and playing inspired and inspirational classic jazz.
The Classic Beauties CD featuring eight original songs by Daniel Barnes and almost three quarters of an hour in length finishes all to fast. The songs are exciting, even the slower ballads have wonderful, exciting playing; the incredible “Don’t Push My Love Aside” at six minutes in length is a trumpet oasis. William Sperandei pulls out all the stops with some of the most beautiful playing imaginable. The longest song at just less than eleven minutes is perfect, the aforementioned “Ogopogo” the song is amazing live and on record.

The live show with three sets included songs from Daniel Barnes' previous independent release, Culmination; “Blues For The Wicket”, “Old Devil Moon” and “Five O’clock Shadow”. All the songs were well received and played with equal amounts of joy and passion by all members of the quintet.

The CD release party was great, the players were exceptional, the songs are wonderful, classic examples of the bebop tradition, given new life in the hands of this talented drummer and composer, Daniel Barnes. Oh and lest we forget, the leader of these talented guardians of the Bebop tradition. Check out the band live and by all means pick up your copy of the new Daniel Barnes CD, Classic Beauties, it is a delight on many different levels.

William Sperandei, Drew Birston
and Richard Underhill
We welcome your comments and feedback
Paul J. Youngman
• • • • • •
Mike Colyer
• •
The Live Music Report

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