Remember the 1970s – of course you don't, you weren't born yet. Trust me, it was a great time for jazz. Big record labels, like Columbia and Warner Brothers, gave their stable of jazz artists good funding to produce personal statements not bounded by end of quarter financial statements. Even small labels, like CTI and Arista, gave their artists the room to find their own way. The result was the best, most diverse, decade of jazz ever created. Cinque harkens back to those great days.
Five of the most unapologetic instrumental musicians ever assembled have created a collection of jazz music that is not just exciting, but also free in spirit, open to nuance and change, uncluttered by egotistic statements, and dedicated to the empathetic needs of others. Drumset legend Steve Gadd, Hammond B3 organ super-virtuoso Joey DeFrancesco, Hungarian keyboardist Robi Botos, Juno Award winning Canadian saxophonist John Johnson, and jazz, rock, pop and R&B bassist, producer and arranger Peter Cardinali, have put together music they want to play, without regard to record sales and producers financial worries.
The result is incredible. The six original compositions, along with a cover of Paul Simon's "Still Crazy After All These Years" and Cedar Walton's "Bolivia," are treated with an honesty not found in 98 percent of the jazz released this century. Maybe it's that none of these artists need this record to make money that makes them so open to being vulnerable to possibilities; they each have thriving careers apart from this amalgamation. They don't just take turns with their solos, they relish the opportunity to dig into the music even harder when they aren't the focal point.
From the Brecker Brothers-ish "Conflicting Advice," to the gospel tinged "Saturday Night, Sunday Morning," to the light funky swinger "Catch A Corner," through to the final Simon "Still Crazy," this band doesn't just nail the music, that state things so definitively they put to rest any thought of anyone ever covering any of these tunes in the future. Most sensational about this group is how smoothly the two keyboard players, DeFrancesco and Botos, are able to mix, meld and play off of each other. They are so smooth in their relationship one can't help but be reminded how of-like-minds they are in the say way guitarists Eric Gale and Cornell Dupree were able to do the same thing in the band Stuff. This isn't just required listening, it's demanding listening you'll be demanding to listen to again and again.