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SCFJQ by The San Franciso ChamberJazz Quartet

The San Francisco ChamberJazz Quartet, led by pianist Gini Wilson and featuring Steve Heckman on saxophones, bassist Pat Klobas and Ron Marabuto on drums, purveys a decorous and somewhat self-consciously artsy style of contemporary jazz. On SFCJQ the group is jointed by guests Jackie Ryan on vocals and Badr Karram on drumbek. The bulk of the CD's 12 tracks are credited to Wilson, while Klobas and Heckman each contribute a composition. Notable material taken from outside the group includes a pair of excerpts (albeit stylized) from Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition.

The disc opens with the pretty "Un Amor Un Poco Tragico," with soft vocalese from Ryan, breathy soprano from Heckman and some delicate work from composer Wilson. Her uptempo blues "Lucky Monkey" is given two readings here, one with a gutsy vocal from Ryan and one an instrumental with a nice feature for Heckman on tenor. The group shows they can really swing on these. Less effective are "Separate Ways" and "Someday Your Smile," both of which have a terminally maudlin quality. "Promenade" and "Mussorgsky in Marakesh" offer interesting interpretations of thematic material from Pictures at an Exhibition and underscore the ChamberJazz component of the SFCJQ's name.

The San Francisco ChamberJazz Quartet touch on a variety of different styles on their latest release. Not everything is equally successful, but the whole thing is interesting. The group tends to err toward the cerebral, but at times prove capable of playing with real feeling and inspiration as well.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: The San Franciso ChamberJazz Quartet
  • CD Title: SCFJQ
  • Genre: Contemporary Jazz / Modern
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Record Label: Music Wizards
  • Rating: Two Stars
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