Owen Howard

Pentagon

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The title cut of this CD finds drummer Owen Howard's band sounding like the Miles Davis Quintet of 1965-68 would have if they had had a guitarist instead of pianist Herbie Hancock. As it turns out, "Pentagon" was written in tribute to Tony Williams, so Howard (who composed the majority of the songs on the date) achieved his purpose. The closing piece, Wayne Shorter's "Capricorn," is also in that style, although some of the other performances (which include Herbie Nichols' "2300 Skidoo") find the ensemble sounding more original. In general, the brooding, quirky and moody compositional style of Shorter is a strong influence on the date. The up-and-coming musicians (Seamus Blake, who doubles here on tenor and soprano, often plays with the Mingus Big Band) all show flashes of originality and will probably be important names in the future. There are some strong moments on the date -- "Saith" has a colorful tradeoff by Blake and trumpeter Phil Grenadier, while guitarist Brad Shepik and bassist Drew Gress get their spots throughout the session -- but overall, this set is not essential and should be viewed primarily as an early statement by these fine players.

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