American Brass Quintessence

Summit Records DCD 263 (Box 26850, Tempe, AZ 85285)

"Have you met our studio teacher yet?"

"No, but I hear he is a monster player . . ."  

This writer cannot exactly remember the words, but these are pretty close to those spoken some 25 years ago at the State University college at Fredonia in western New York.  The studio teacher was a young (22-24) year old) Michael Powell, new trombone teacher at the college, and the conversation took place among the trombone studio musicians in the fall of 1976.  Well . . . here we are in a new century, and Michael Powell was and has indeed remained the monster player that we all proclaimed him to be.

Mike is but one member of this wonderful ensemble, The American Brass Quintet, and its album QUINTESSENCE is the reason for this review.  Intended to commemorate their 40th anniversary as a group, this album is a sampling of music through the ages, beginning with music of the renaissance, through contemporary selections.  Twenty-six tracks in all, this CD is an excellent representation of what a brass quintet should sound like.  The group's sound is cohesive and well-matched, coupled with an outstanding level of musicianship.  As a quintet that utilizes bass trombone instead of a tuba, one might guess that there could be a "thinness" to the overall sound; but to the contrary, this is one of the richest sound quintets that this writer has ever heard!  All of the players have distinct but complementary sounds.

In terms of value, this CD is a bargain.  Presented in the same fashion that a live performance might be: "editions of older brass music alongside cutting-edge new works," you get 66:49 minutes by one of the finest brass quintets in the world . . . most enjoyable.  Every brass fan should own this CD!

--Daniel Macpherson
Rochester, NY
ITA Journal, Spring 2001 (Vol 29, No 2, Pg 42)

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