Bob Boguslaw's quintet, based in Washington, D.C., contains reedist Pete BarenBregge, bassist Aaron Clay, drummer Frank Russo and percussionist Chris Rose. Several are current or former members of national military bands, and on Gabrielle's Hand they play with the ferocious joy of guys just gone AWOL.
The explosive energy begins with Russo, a drummer of extraordinary power and uncommon precision. Very few standard ("red book") CDs have so convincingly captured an entire drum kit in full eruption-the in-your-guts bass-drum kicks, the thunder on snare and tom, the lashes on cymbals, but also the minute details of bells and brushes.
Pianist Boguslaw writes complex, meticulous tunes with odd meters and disciplined allocation of solo space. The album ends with one of the most unusual versions on record of "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To." It finds in Cole Porter an unexpectedly pensive dirge (from Boguslaw) and also an ascendant catharsis (from BarenBregge).
The technical staffs of major record labels like Columbia, Verve and Blue Note should be required to listen to Gabrielle's Hand to hear how good a recording of a small jazz ensemble can sound. It was recorded, mixed and mastered by Alan Wonneberger, who could give lessons to a lot of famous engineers.