Ellen Rowe Quartet: Wishing Well

An intelligent composer, clever arranger, sensitive accompanist and lyrical soloist, pianist Ellen Rowe leads a group of Michigan-based musicians on her affecting sophomore outing. Ingrid Jensen guests on flugelhorn on the beautiful opener, “For That Which Was Living, Lost,” and on the graceful ballad “Longing,” a piece inspired by trumpeter Kenny Wheeler. The quartet swings with an ebullient nod to Ellington on “Lewisburg Bluesy-oo,” then strikes a Jazz Messengers vibe on “Tick Tock.” Drummer Pete Siers digs into a more urgent groove on “Sanity Clause,” a track inspired by the Bad Plus. Saxophonist Andrew Bishop is Rowe’s secret weapon throughout, alternately playing fluid, boppish lines, as on “Seven Steps to My Yard” (a clever combination of “Steven Steps to Heaven” and “Yardbird Suite), and melding into the fabric of her gentle pieces with uncanny empathy, as on the meditative title track.