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July/August 2000

Los Angeles Jazz Quartet
Conversation Piece
Naxos of America

There is a certain sense of refinement in the dialogue between bandmembers tenor saxophonist Chuck Manning, guitarist Larry Koonse, bassist Darek "Oles" Oleszkiewicz and drummer Kevin Tullius. Their individual musical statements ring clear on Oleszkiewicz's opener "Blues for Old Friends," with Manning's pure tones mellowed by Koonse's relaxed chordal support. It is this mood that prevails through much of the album which includes material penned by the members of the ensemble and interpretations of standards such as "'Round Midnight" and "With a Song in My Heart." The exception is another original from the bassist, the edgier, less melodically delivered "Glimpse." Koonse again sets the tone with his bright single note passages urged on by Tullius' fluid cymbal work. The drummer's use of cymbals and brushes caresses the bassist's introduction on Tullius' original "Tribute," which is thoughtfully accented by Koonse's tender guitar. It's a song for a rainy night as the tenorist sings his serenade with wordless lyricism. Koonse's tune "All Things Waltz" is a playful number that sets the combo in motion with its lighthearted rhythms and tones. The interplay among the musicians is particularly effective with the individuals taking turns highlighting each other's statements-guitar to bass, tenor to guitar. Rather than being topical, the Los Angeles Jazz Quartet's Conversation Piece is a quiet interlude, a soft interaction between knowledgeable jazz companions.

Originally published in July/August 2000
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