Scott Reeves Quintet | The Alchemist Review
by Icrom Bigrad
Trombonist, multi-instrumentalist, and composer Scott Reeves is returning with a new album called The Alchemist via Origin Records. The album is a recording of a 2005 live performance at The City College of New York, NYC by the Scott Reeves Quintet, with Reeves on alto flugelhorn, alto valve trombone and electronics, guitarist Russ Spiegel, pianist/keyboardist Mike Holober, bassist Howard Britz and drummer Andy Watson. The set comprises one standard, “All or Nothing At All,” and five Reeves originals, including the title track, a soul-jazz groove dedicated to Miles Davis.
“Shapeshifter” is an exciting Reeves original with a catchy melody and solos that are virtuous, raucous, and inspired. The live energy brings a buzz, and the joy of playing for a live audience abounds in the quintet. Reeves slyly opens his solo with methodical lines and melodies. His warm tone is immediately palpable, and the ensemble is very responsive and interactive. Watson’s solos against a repeated rhythmic figure. His rhythmic flurries twist and turn into the comping rhythm and are musically satisfying. Holober’s solo is ecstatic and builds the energy well. Spiegel adds well-meant effects with his electronics that do not really blend, but it is still an added texture. The quintet brings out the power and glory of the composition to conjure a wonderful listening experience, both live and on record.
“The Alchemist” has a funky jazz groove with Holober on electric piano and a buoyant feel by Britz and Watson. The composition’s harmonic structure is not complicated, allowing each soloist to find the distinct possibilities of improvisational colors. Holober’s solo resonates with a Fender Rhodes vibe as it deeply connects to the rhythm section and effortlessly navigates the keyboard. Reeves brings his effected horn into a soulful place. Spiegel pushes the pulse with a percussive and flowing solo riding the intensive groove of Britz and Watson.
The Alchemist is a fine set of live music that shows Reeves is still burning with musical creativity, and his majestic compositions show he is a knowing, insightful, and visionary writer who can swing and beyond. The quintet is intently on the same page, making The Alchemist a pleasant listen from beginning to end.