JWR Articles: CD - Lessons Learned (Featured performers: William Carn, Kelly Jefferson, David Braid, Kieran Overs, Anthony Michelli) - October 10, 2007

Lessons Learned

3.5 3.5

Well on the way to greatness

The William Carn Quintet’s second CD is a truly marvellous array of the extraordinary and the “nearly there.” At its best, the results are world class: “Dirka’s” exotic flavour rolls along happily, its unison melody morphing into a single hue as Kelly Jefferson’s sax and Carn’s trombone meld into a deliciously unique colour; “When You Least Expect It” eases into consciousness with David Braid’s thoughtful, poignant piano solo that sets the stage for the beautifully introspective depictions of composer Carn’s brushes with life’s challenges; “The Good Doctor” shows the band at one with each other—collectively, like sharing secrets, they’re reluctant to let the mood disappear. Yet on the other side of the ledger the notion of what could have been makes one wish for another take or two: “Out of Necessity” is frustratingly close to razor-sharp ensemble; Kelly’s reeds seem one strength too soft to allow his creativity to sear into our imaginations; Carn’s edgy-when-required, mellow-on-demand tone has been placed a tad too far back in the mix to realize the blend and balance that most certainly could be heard when in live performance; too many of the tracks—notably “Business”—merely stop rather than end. I’m overly picky because of the several helpings of greatness that do jump out of the speakers: towards the end of Carn’s solo in “No Problem,” the music takes flight as he and his colleagues lose themselves in their art only to have the “script” trump the moment. More, please! Just let “it” go. The trio that supports the leads deserve many accolades. Bassist extraordinaire Kieran Overs demonstrates his gifted proficiency whether firmly pushing the pedal in “Go Figure” or taking the lead as “No Problem” winds down; pianist David Braid brings his wide range of styles from classical arpeggios (“When You Least Expect It” which also finds an echo from Brahms’ Fourth Symphony to prove the veracity of the title) to saucy excursions filled with joy (“With You”). Gluing this altogether is Anthony Michelli’s drum kit—he’s a model of the “less is more” school that has too few pupils before the public today. Here’s to the third edition from MCQ as these “Lessons Learned” demand an encore. JWR

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