Countless pieces of music use New York City as their inspirational backdrop; Billy Strayhorn’s “Take the A Train,” John Coltrane’s “Central Park West,” and Ahmad Jamal’s “Manhattan Reflections” come immediately to mind. Drummer Reggie Quinerly takes this concept to heart on New York Nowhere, an ode to the city he called home for 20 years. Though not a native (he hails from Houston), he spent the better part of his career in NYC, studying with veterans Jimmy Cobb, Lewis Nash, and Kenny Washington, and sharpening his chops on the jazz scene. Late last year, he moved to California, but this album, set to a mellow groove, represents his New York memories—and reflects all the cool vibes of a spontaneous night in the Big Apple.
Quinerly is always careful to select top-notch players who meld well together, so it’s no surprise that this quintet is made up of musicians who have a longstanding history with each other. “Reflections on the Hudson,” the album opener, is a perfect example of the group’s chemistry: Trumpeter Antoine Drye vividly swings while saxophonist John Ellis eloquently backs him up. Drye and Ellis have been performing together for more than 30 years.
“Somewhere on Houston,” another hard bopper, again highlights Drye’s brilliant solo work on the horn, and then brings his longtime friend and pianist John Chin into the mix for a soulful refrain. “New York Nights” speeds up the tempo of the album even more, this time showcasing Ellis’ brisk sax skills. Quinerly has no problem letting his sidemen shine, but his adept ability to keep them steadily grooving is where his power lies.