California Dusk

Summer Dusk: Studio Sessions is the new, fourth album by FivePlay Jazz, a quintet from the San Francisco Bay Area, offering nine originals written by guitarist Tony Corman and pianist Laura Klein. The album features soulful San Franciscan singer Clairdee on the title ballad, a flute choir and, on three tracks, a four-voice vocal ensemble.

The playing is impeccable throughout: mature, delicate and eminently listenable, sometimes fragile, sometimes lively and slightly bizarre, as on Springhill Road, one of my favourite tracks. I’ve no idea where on this planet Springhill Road is, but on this one the band sounds as if it was a sun-lit street in central Rio de Janeiro…

Each of the players is top-notch. Rarely have I come across an album whose title is so brilliantly chosen, it accurately encapsulates the mood of the whole album in just two words.

And the opening track, the aptly named Bright Golden Sunshine, is beautifully enriched by the vocal ensemble composed by top London studio singers. It’s just the right dose of California sun, a perfect antidote for those cold and dreary February afternoons over here in Germany.

Saxophonist/reed player Dave Tidball is a gem, his playing often has a melancholy and dreamy quality to it that is difficult to match. Laura is a superb jazz pianist (just check out the title track, the cha-cha Lost and Found or her half-crazy solo on Springhill Road), and Tony Corman is one of the most subtly elegant guitarists I have come across in a long time. The rhythm section, Paul Smith and Phil Hawkins/Jason Lewis, is excellent, never intrusive.

This album is quite definitely on my list of Discs of the Year 2021. Should be on YOURS as well.

There’s a video preview available:

Summer dusk: Studio Sessions. Self-produced. 2020.