As the title implies, a "conversation" piece is something intimate, spoken closely, not a loud speech or a boisterous shout. With this release, the LAJQ has crafted the musical equivalent. Larry Koonse's plaintive guitar and Chuck Manning's saxophone speak in calm measured tones, while Darek "Oles" Oleszkiewicz's bass and drummer Kevin Tullius provide meaningful support. Make no mistake, it's not sentimental whimpering music or maudlin ballads. This is clear-headed music the way Bill Evans' reflective music was. The lyricism of the late pianist is a big influence on this recording and with LAJQ member original tunes like the 15-bar (!?!) "Blues For Old Friends" and the unhesitant ode "Tribute", that respect is very evident.
About the LAJQ
Formed over five years ago, the group works mostly in the Los Angeles area, although they toured France in 1998. Each member also plays in a number of other contexts with many other artists. Koone and Oleszkiewicz even teach at the California Institue of the Arts. This is their second release for Naxos Jazz, following Look To The East in 1997.
Second-generation guitarist Koonse's resume includes singers Cleo Laine and Mel Torme; saxophonist Lee Konitz, Warne Marsh and Bob Sheppard; clarinetist Eddie Daniels; bassist Charlie Haden and Herbie Lewis; drummer Billy Higgins, and harmonica master Toots Thielemanns. He has also soloed with the L.A. Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, the Boston Pops and other symphonies. Saxophonist Manning performs with many ensembles in the Los Angeles are including drummer Carl Burnett and trumpeter Bobby Bradford. Manning has also recorded many albums as both leader and sideman.
Bassist Darek "Oles" has supported flautist James Newton, trumpeter Marcus Printup and Brian Lynch, saxophonist Charles Lloyd, pianist Brad Mehldau and Billy Childs. Drummer Kevin Tullius plays regularly with the Bulgarian-born pianist Milcho Leviev, and has backed saxman Eric Marienthal, bassist Art Davis and John Pattitucci.