The Paul Broadnax Quintet – Live at Indian Hill Music

The Paul Broadnax Quintet – Live at Indian Hill Music The Paul Broadnax Quintet
Live at Indian Hill Music
(Broadnax – 2007)
by Matt Robinson

Combining the swing savvy of Joe Williams with the gentlemanly demeanor and humor of Bobby Short, Boston’s own Paul Broadnax and his talented tune team use this well-produced and diverse live performance to stretch out in the suburban venue/music center known as Littleton, MA’s Indian Hill Music. From sax man Fred Haas’ “Blues with a Twist” instrumental introduction to Broadnax’s adopted blues declaration “I Had a Dream” (during which he gives both the band and the audience time to laugh and react to his thoughtful storytelling) to an inventively scatted take on the Gershwin’s “Strike Up the Band,” Broadnax and co. make hits old and new their own without losing anything or anyone in the process.

Though Broadnax is front and center for nearly every tune, he does not neglect his talented teammates. Ellington’s “In a Mellow Tone” emerges from a rhythmic duet with bassist Peter Knontrimas and drummer Les Harris, Jr. to a spare but silky solo by Haas that is subtly supported by Dave Trefethen’s gentle strums. Similarly, Broadnax’s tender reading of Burt Bacharach’s “House is Not a Home” stars with just “a chair” (i.e., his piano bench), but reveals itself in gentle steps that bring the rest of the musicians in just as the lonely lover in the song reaches out to others.

Not one to keep things “in a mellow tone” however, Broadnax immediately kicks things back into high with a strutting and strafing take on “Roll ‘em Pete” that wishes death on a lost love but then apologizes through a finale of “After You’ve Gone” that, though introduced by Trefethen’s glistening strings, eventually snaps the entire ensemble back together for one last fun and fast run. In the end, Broadnax has deomonstrated not only his own talent and those of his band but also what can be done with any song in the right hands and vocal cords.

C. 2007 M. S. Robinson ARR