The Western Jazz Quartet, made up of faculty members from Western Michigan University, has been one of the brightest spots of the Sea Breeze label. While the individual musicians are likely not too widely known outside of academic circles, tenor saxophonist Trent Kynaston, pianist Steve Zegree, bassist Tom Knific and drummer Tim Froncek are all extremely gifted musicians. Kynaston contributed several originals, including the driving post-bop anthem "What Was Said Was Not Enough" and the multifaceted "Freedom Can Dance," the latter which keeps twisting in new directions. His masterpiece, though, is his three-part "Tango Sweet." It begins with "Would That I Could," a loopy, infectious 12-tone tango, followed by "The More I Seek My Solitude, The Less of It I Find. Wherever I Search, My Shadow Follows," a moody feature for guest violinist Renata Artman Knific and likely entry into the longest song title contest since Hoagy Carmichael cranked out "I'm a Cranky Old Yank in My Clanky Old Tank..." during World War II. The finale, "Sabine's Dance," has the composer switching to soprano sax and it is easily the most accessible of the three movements, though the full suite deserves to be enjoyed in its entirety. There is a sudden change of pace with the medley of a gritty arrangement of the standard "Stella by Starlight" and George Mraz's intricate "Pepper," which showcases Tom Knific to good effect. Veteran drummer Billy Hart guests on the last two tracks, including the bittersweet "Cinema Paradiso" and the turbulent Afro-Cuban chart "Dirty Dogs." Highly recommended!
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden