The Here & Now quintet's debut record, Break of Day, is a fine introduction to some young jazz musicians who began to build their sound during their high school years together in Seattle. But being serious musicians, they didn't settle for the jazz equivalent of a high school garage band; they first went their separate ways to pursue collegiate jazz education at some of the finest music schools in the country including The New School, Julliard, and New England Conservatory. Here & Now seems a fitting title for a group that can trace their shared roots back to the "there & then" of their teenage years in Seattle.
In the liner notes, Bill Kirchner draws a comparison between Here & Now's sound and the legendary Horace Silver Quintet, a pillar of the hard bop sound from the late 1950s to the mid-1960s. The obligations of the liner notes writer aside, it is high praise and a bit overzealous. After all, you are comparing pianist Drew Pierson to Silver himself, trumpeter Tatum Greenblatt to the likes of Art Farmer and Blue Mitchell, and saxophone player Ben Roseth to Silver sidemen such as Clifford Jordan and Junior Cook. The Here & Now quintet's musicianship is very good but they will need some time and seasoning to live up to a similarity as lofty as that. Silver's quintet was also an exemplar of the hard bop school, while Here & Now is softer and more lyrical (the closest tunes to something more Silver-esque are the opener, "Keep," and the bluesy closer, "Mance's Dance," but both still follow a somewhat lighter groove).
But Break of Day does show that they share a philosophy with Horace Silver's band: the emphasis is on melody, harmonic structure and ensemble playing rather than on individual soloists. There are of course plenty of solos, but they are never meant to dominate the impression of the tune, only to add seasoning to the main ingredients. The net result is a collection of tunes -- all originals -- that are well-kept, fresh, and very accessible.
Here & Now is a jazz group to watch. Hopefully they will continue to record together and develop their sound, letting themselves stretch more and more harmonically and adding up-tempo work to lend more edge and excitement to their sound. Even so, Break of Day is a fine jazz record from the next generation of jazz musicians.