Russian bassist/composer Dmitri Kolesnik was born in Leningrad, now known as St. Petersburg. Graduating with a music degree in 1985 from the Mussorgsky College of Music he moved first to Germany and then, in 1991, to New York where he studied with Ron Carter and earned a Masters Degree in Music from the City College of New York. His note for note transcription of 19 Ron Carter solos is published by Hal Leonard. Among the artists Kolesnik has worked with include Dave Brubeck, Billy Taylor, Jon Faddis and Pat Methany.
Five Corners is the current state of a musical union started six years ago. It began when Kolesnik invited tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, trumpeter Alex Sipiagin, pianist Andrei Kondakov and drummer Lenny White to record his music. The recording of that work, Blues For Dad, was released on the Russian Boheme record label. Since then the group has worked regularly in New York as well internationally, such as their 2005 appearance at the Peter-and-Paul International Jazz Festival in Russia. On this recording they’ve added trumpeter Jim Rotondi in place of Sipiagin on eight of the ten tunes.
This wonderful recording of ten straight-ahead original compositions, eight by Kolesnik and two by Kondakov, is a delight. Each of the tunes has a different vibe and, as a collection, strongly demonstrates how much these musicians enjoy playing with each other. The glue that makes the disc work is the exceptional percussion/drum set work of Lenny White. While perhaps more known for his more commercial work at the end of the 20th century, this strong musician drives the group when they need propelling and fills the quiet holes as well as any drummer working today. His tight cymbal work and fleet hands on "Monk’s Mood" is without peer. His notes don’t just impel the ensemble forward, he has the ability to make his fellow co-patriots glide on a cushion of rhythmic air. Similarly, on the ballad "Long Nights Without You," his crystalline strokes of beauty help to make this tune a shimmering stylish affair full of empathetic sadness and exquisite emotion.
Tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, long known for his beauty and meticulous attention to traditional jazz skillfulness and ability, plays with conviction and a gorgeous tone throughout. Whether the trumpeter/flugelhornist is Jim Rotondi or talent deserving wider recognition Alex Sipiagin, they both handle the brass chair with panache and wit. Pianist Andrei Kondakov has a knack for finding just the right voicings at just the right time. His effortless waltz through the 5/4 time of "Aniuta" is a delight. His touch is so smooth you don’t realize the tune is in five until you dissect the composition.
Kolesnik distinguishes himself with a full and round tone. His inventive walking lines work to embellish the soloist’s ideas; as seen with his adroit upper tessitura ostinato work behind Rotondi’s sweet solo on "Goodbye." As a composer he is capable of writing music of great emotional content; from full out swingers to light and clever mid-tempo masterpieces and lush ballads, Kolesnik is obviously a musician who has spent great time in study of music of the masters. His ability to then filter that knowledge through his own prism to create wonderful masterpieces of form and harmony results in a truly enjoyable CD. You will find yourself listening to this disc again and again.