Back in the late '80s, Kim Pensyl's first two Pensyl Sketches albums ranked among the genre's most popular piano works; since that time, he's been expanding his artistic boundaries, first adding a live band and then switching off the lead melody with his first instrument, trumpet. While his smoky horn work on Quiet Café is at least as appealing as his gently rhythmic ivory touch, it's unlikely that he'll topple Rick Braun's reign as today's premiere trumpeter. Nonetheless, it makes sense for Pensyl to so gracefully recall his childhood horn since the disc is in memory of his mother. If, as his liner notes indicate, this music is reflective of her spirit, then she was a lady light on her feet, with equal love for cool '70s jazz/soul (on "Dancing Shadows" he uses synth to create a jumpy Fender Rhodes and wah-wah guitar sound blend) and laid-back Brazilian music -- on the title track, Pensyl's piano and flügelhorn sway in the light breeze created by acoustic guitarist Kevin Turner. While he varies rhythm from samba to thick urban funk, his most effective expression of love and loss occurs on the ballad "Old Friend," where he strips down to a thoughtful duet of piano and trumpet.
AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran