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Quorum by Eric Bolvin

Eric Bolvin’s "Quorum" was conceived and recorded at Blue Cherry Studios in San Jose. Sometimes music can express a sense of place and usually works in favor of the composer to convey a feeling or an attitude to their listeners. In this case, there are distinctive elements of San Jose, particularly the historical core and certain modernist areas that have and are helping define San Jose and create an identity. There are other elements that are reflective of the banality of sprawl. Consciously or not, this is articulated with the music on "Quorum" for better and worse.

Some of the elements that are the most interesting and inventive are tracks that revisit old territory like Billy Strayhorn’s ‘Chelsea Bridge’ or create a modernist impulse like Eric Bolvin’s composition, ‘The Fly.’ The former begins with a sweet solo interlude by Bolvin that is as soulful as dry tear on one’s cheek and its longing is picked up gracefully by the rest of his band. ‘Chelsea Bridge’ is cooked to perfection. ‘The Fly’ is different. It begins in a skittish, nervous way and this tension is never really relieved. There is a lot of outward emotion in the way Bolvin plays on this track. There are more risks in the playing and the piece is better for it.

‘Pindrop’ feels like a conundrum reminiscent of Miles Davis. It is an exquisite short piece that is like drifting through a modern suburb and suddenly spying a magnificent oak tree in all its splendor that has been left alone and somehow survived. ‘Ballad of Bear’ is a sad and worried piece that is like remembering where the cherry orchard used to be and where the memories have now been paved over.

The other pieces don’t fare as nearly as well. Instead of being distinctive, most of them they all flow together in a homogenous way. In this case, they sound and feel like a landscape created by a 1970’s residential suburb. The genuine feeling of place is replaced by an overly planned, too sterile, safe tract. It feels like you need a car to get anywhere. The streets are devoid of people and the community congregates in a big box, chain store.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Eric Bolvin
  • CD Title: Quorum
  • Genre: Contemporary Jazz / Modern
  • Year Released: 2002
  • Record Label: EBjazz Records
  • Tracks: Three Thing, Hey Jude, Tribute 2001, Pindrop, Places, Bridge by Candlelight, Chelsea Bridge, The Fly, Ballad of Bear, Circles
  • Musicians: Eric Bolvin (trumpet & flugelhorn), Tom Politizer (tenor saxophone), Ken Harill (guitar), Joe Heineman (piano), Dan Robbins (bass), Peter Booras (drums), Chris miller (drums), Noel Melanio (keyboards), Mark Gelfand (keyboards), Joseph Devito (bass)
  • Rating: Three Stars
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