Honolulu Jazz Quartet – Tenacity

Honolulu Jazz Quartet
(HJQ – 2007)
by Donald N. Eichelberger

Title cut, the HJQ comes “shooting out of the gate” like four thoroughbreds – with “Tenacity”! But they almost immediately drop down into hard-swinging groove – smooth and strong. These thoroughbreds aren’t competing to win a race; they’re cooperating, supporting each other, using rhythmic and tonal inspiration to catapult each other to greater heights. By the end of this first cut, each musician has been properly introduced; so you pretty much know who everybody is and what they’re capable of, but this only whets your appetite for what’s to come. Dig in!

“Real Old Style”: I can’t recall if or where I’ve heard this composition before, but I get the feeling that I have. But I can’t have heard it played any more sweetly than it is played here. Not sugary sweet. Sweet to your ears like children’s laughter.

“Midlife”: I get the feeling that this composition is an inside intellectual joke being shared among the musicians. (“You know, man… like… it’s…. esoteric, man.”) They’re smiling, but the performance ain’t no joke.

If the last cut was an inside joke, then this one, “The Indians”, is a pensive poem – one that we all can share in. Melodic peacefulness.

“Honolulu Hang”: One would have to be completely ignorant of jazz history not to recognize that the composer, pianist Dan Del Negro, is paying his homage to the late-and-very-great Horace Silver. And since I LOVE Horace Silver, I can easily and honestly say, “Well done, Mr. Del Negro.”

One might easily and similarly propound that on “Wayne’s Bounce”, the composer, bassist John Kolivas, is paying homage to a jazz great who, bless him, ain’t yet late. He’s right on time EVERY TIME: Wayne Shorter. And once again, my compliments to the composer for faithfully capturing, and reminding us to treasure the ebullient, effervescent, soulful signature of the music that proceedeth from the mind and horn of Wayne Shorter.

Listen to the first five notes and the last five notes of the melody line, and you’ll almost hear the sax player, speak the words to the title of the composition, “Chillin’ At The Crib”. The entire piece evokes a mood that mirrors the music. Listen, and you, too, can be “Chillin’ At The Crib”. Nice and comfy, isn’t it?

“The Keez Is In The Car” is straight-ahead jazz, but this ain’t coach: This is First Class.

As the final cut, it’s appropriate that “Are We There Yet” should include a movement/section that features each member of the Honolulu Jazz Quartet. It’s a fine and fitting finale to a truly entertaining CD.