Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Recommended Artist: The Five Corners Quintet

Long the preferred genre of many a hipster, music geek, and...well, serious musician, Jazz is often considered the kind of music that everyone SHOULD listen to but nobody actually DOES listen to, which is a shame. I'll admit, as much as I say I enjoy jazz music and respect the musicians, I don't often sit down with a classic Duke Ellington record just for kicks; I'm usually too busy trying to get to the next big indie rock thing.

Still, when you're introduced to a band like Helsinki's The Five Corner's Quintet, it would be a real shame to just let them slip by. The group's refreshing take on traditional 'dancefloor' jazz is immediate, fun, and classy, an experience certainly worth having even if you're not fanatical about the genre. Their new album, Hot Corner, is comprised mainly of instrumental numbers, with Teppo Mäkynen (drums/bandleader), Timo Lassy (sax), Jukka Eskola (trumpet), Mikael Jakobsson (piano), and Antti Lötjönen (double bass) all contributing their solid musicianship to make for a thoughly enjoyable 45 minutes. Opener "Hot Rod" starts things off with a groovy bass line and some fantastic horn work, while "Skinny Dipping" relies on stellar drumming by Mäkynen and gives Jakobsson time for a great solo. Later on, the group gives us another pair of standouts, the funky, upbeat "Shake It" and the 70's groove of "Easy Diggin'."

The record features a number of cuts with vocalist Mark Murphy, who lends his stylish voice to liven up the mellow "Kerouac Days in Montana" and the darkly romantic "Come and Get Me." His presence shakes things up in a good way, though the group shine particularly bright when left to their own devices. Hot Corner is the kind of album that should have a particularly broad appeal, as jazz music goes anyway. The songs are varied in their tempo and intensity, and the group hits the perfect balance of a classic jazz feel and more expansive, progressive arrangements, so the record feels fresh and new without ever becoming unnecessarily abstract. Put simply, this is music made to be enjoyed by anyone and everyone.

Head over to the band's MySpace page to hear half of the new album and give these guys a chance, I'm willing to bet you'll be glad you did.