Carl Amundson and the Modern Guitar Quintet have released their third album. Five players are donned on the cover in debonair suits more befitting them to a swanky cocktail lounge than to a jazz club. But the formality ends there. The quintet instantly creates an album of musical and melodic appeal with arrangements that will make you tap your fingers to the beat. It is fun listening.
Old standard such as Gershwin’s "Our Love is Here to Stay" and Cole Porter’s "All of You" are played with a refreshing and new approach. Frederick Chopin’s Prelude in E Minor is given a samba backbeat that gives this timeless piece an air of cool detachment. Crossover hits such as "Don’t Know Why" will bring more converts to jazz, or perhaps from jazz to pop. It is played as simply and as endearingly as Norah Jones’ enormously big hit with the Grammies. There is little in terms of solo space or "stretching out" as this album portends to fit in that area of accessible jazz. Don’t mistake me, it isn’t smooth jazz. It is simply an album of easy swinging, fun and relaxing songs.
The album works on several levels: it is accessible, engaging and enjoyable to the ear. The musicians are sharp and play well together. Any listener will appreciate the intricate guitar play, interaction of players and the tasteful treatment of songs. Pull up a chair, get a cool drink and put this album on for a spin.