Five Play: On the Brink

Five Play’s album On the Brink doesn’t compromise on expressiveness, ideas or chops. Alto saxophonists and flutists Karoline Strassmayer and Laura Dreyer are soaring bebop players, and pianist Lorraine Desmaris, bassist Nicki Parrott and drummer Maricle swing with conviction and sturdiness. Trumpeter John McNeil’s arrangements give the quintet a solid, comfortable ensemble sound and kick (as distinguished from jam session fare).

Along with the horns, Ray Brown-inspired bassist Parrott plays several outstanding solos. Their varied placement and integration in the lineup suggest care and consideration beyond the obligatory, next-to-last chorus bass solo. The performances include an uptempo “I’ll Get By,” Jerry Bergonzi’s tricky title tune, Kenny Dorham’s agreeable blues “Shifting Down,” a tasteful Sinatra ballad medley and others. Five Play equals “great play” throughout this album.