* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
DAVID SILLS DOUBLE GUITAR QUINTET – “NATURAL LINES” – Gut String Records
David Sills, tenor saxophone/alto flute; Mike Scott & Larry Koonse, guitars; Blake White, bass; Tim Pleasant, drums.
This is the 17th album release for reed player, David Sills. It features seven original compositions by Sills and tunes by Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Jimmy Davis, Alan Broadbent and two of Sills’ accompanists, guitarists Larry Koonse and Mike Scott. Opening with Scott’s “Minor Monk,” this group swings hard and the catchy melody repeats in your head. This is the sign of a well-written composition. The Sills’ group has a tight, cohesive sound. When David Sills comes to the forefront on his horn, his mellow tone lights up the musical stage. I played this song twice before moving on. You rarely hear a quintet that utilizes two guitars, but it works! David Sills explained:
“In recent years, most of my performances have taken place in venues in which no piano was available, so to fill the role of the missing piano, I began adding a second guitar. This instrumentation seemed to open up many musical possibilities and allowed for an interesting mix of sonic colors. Thus, the idea for this recording, featuring a double guitar quintet, was born.”
Certainly, it helps to use some of the best players in Southern California like Larry Koonse and Mike Scott, who is a founding member of the Los Angeles Jazz Collective. Together, Scott and Koonse create a rich, beautiful rhythm section, along with Tim Pleasant on drums and Blake White on bass. They become a cohesive palate where Sills can paint his silky, smooth tenor saxophone sound. “Sonny’s Side” is a David Sill original composition and it’s another swinging arrangement. I wondered if it was a tribute to Sonny Rollins. When reading the publicist’s promo package, I discovered it actually was. Tim Pleasant colors the music on his trap drums and holds the swing time in perfect place. Half way through, the ensemble give’s Pleasant a time to shine on an impressive drum solo. Blake White, on double bass, locks in with Pleasant and the groove is impeccable.
On the Alan Broadbent tune, “Quiet Is the Star” Sills picks up his alto flute and serenades us. David Sills stays busy as a recording and performing woodwind player, as a composer and an educator. He puts out albums every other year, tours the United States, Europe and Asia as a bandleader and still finds time to perform with David Benoit, The Acoustic Jazz Quartet, the Line Up and the Liam Sillery Quintet. His current project, “Natural Lines” is a whole new adventure, for the first time featuring his double guitar quintet and offering us a dozen well-played songs for our listening pleasure