On a cool Friday evening, I was taken to the sounds of the Nick Scott Quintet, which had more of a chamber jazz feel since the band did not have a drummer and most of the tunes are melodic, pensive, and meditative.
The quintet was made up of guitarist/composer Nick Scott, pianist/keyboardist Tom Richards, Jeff LaRochelle on tenor sax, Ryan Brouwer on trumpet, and Jim Sexton on bass.
The material consisted of original repertoire that was featured on Nick Scott’s debut CD called “Vestiges”, and chamber-like arrangements of standard repertoire. The opening number, Cinco Sol, had the immediate feel of an ECM performance, with its spacy, straight timing and the quintet performing tight like a chamber unit with intricate arrangements. The next three of Nick Scott’s pieces, Memory Woken, Requiem, and Coalesence, follow in that same vein, while at the same time giving an opportunity to let the soloists shine on the material and express themselves outside of the chamber like context.
The last two pieces are standards, starting with the Wayne Shorter classic “Infant Eyes”, which has the pianist stating the melody while the horns play harmony in the opening passage. It was one of the most expressive and emotional performances of the evening, with great solo turns by Richards, Brouwer, LaRochelle and Scott. Closing the night was a reading of the old standard “If I Should Lose You”, which gives the ensemble a chance to cook and swing on a good tune, showing that they can pull off a tight swinging groove without the need of drums or percussion.
A word individually about the musicians:
Nick Scott’s compositions and guitar playing puts him in the company of the great guitarists that went before him, such as John Abercrombie, Jim Hall, John Scofield and even Pat Metheny. He is a local talent that is definitely to look out for and watch in the years to come.
Jeff LaRochelle shows how he is capable and able to adapt to new configurations and challenges when it presents himself. He is a very expressive and fine musician that brings out the best in music and puts his own soul into each piece of work.
Ryan Brouwer plays a very effective role by providing harmonic, melodic and tonal accompaniment through his trumpet in addition to making it a solo instrument. This shows trememdous ability and growth as a musician to take on different hats and roles in a musical context. I would love to hear more from this musician in the near future as well, and this performance served for me as a great introduction to an up and coming talent.
Tom Richards is one that not only is a great keyboardist and composer, but is also known as a trombonist. Here, he plays really effective keys and provides great accompaniment and tonal colours to the music of Nick Scott.
Jim Sexton is a great and capable bassist and improviser that provided steady time keeping and rhythm for an ensemble that didn’t have a drummer present. He is also an effective soloist and improviser, taking moving solos whenever needed and playing with such soul and fire. Overall, he was a great anchor to the chamber like quality of the quintet.
It was a great evening of soothing, soulful, and melodic jazz music put together by great young jazz musicians who seem like they were working together for years. Look out for Nick Scott and the rest of these musicians in Toronto whenever they play a show next.
OFFICIAL NICK SCOTT WEB SITE
(FROM LEFT: TOM RICHARDS, JIM SEXTON, JEFF LAROCHELLE, NICK SCOTT, RYAN BROUWER)