BSQ is Bob Schwartz, tenor sax and flutes, Rob Orwin, piano, Herb Nachmann, bass, and Steve Olson, drums. On Look For The Silver Lining they are joined by Howard Leikin, guitar, vocalist Nina Schwartz, and featured artist Tony Martucci, percussion. From the press release for the event at Twins Jazz, Washington, DC:
Bob Schwartz picked up the flute in third grade and became good enough to win Mozart competitions in high school. But dance bands didn’t have flutes so he picked up the sax, played lead alto in college, and on tenor played in groups with Andy LaVerne and his pal from boyhood, David Berger (NY’s David Berger Jazz Orchestra). After a career in lawyering in Washington, he got seriously into the jazz scene again by producing award-winning CDs for David’s Octet (featuring Harry Allen and Joe Temperley) and David’s big band (with Freda Payne and Denzal Sinclaire). Then he formed his own group, BSQ, and started arranging and producing for his own band. In Look For The Silver Lining, BSQ’s second CD, Bob invites percussion master Tony Martucci to celebrate samba, standards, and the work of sax greats Al Cohn and Lou Donaldson.
When Bob and David were at Berklee for a summer, Lou was playing downtown at the Jazz Workshop. They went every night; for his last few nights Lou had them sitting in. Bob’s been a fan ever since, particularly of Lou’s work with conga great Ray Barretto. BSQ’s pianist, Rob Orwin, is a longtime student of Brazil’s music, and the band had been getting into sambas. So they asked Tony Martucci, Washington’s “first call” drummer and mentor to BSQ’s Steve Olson, to join Look For The Silver Lining as percussionist, for the bop conga sound and for the sambas. They also called on DC guitarist Howard Leikin, and Bob’s vocalist wife Nina. Bob and BSQ bassist Herb Nachmann had been listening to Al Cohn’s later albums. When they set the playlist for Look For The Silver Lining the band was very much into tunes associated with Al.
The CD opens with Nina, and Tony’s jazz conga pulse on Cole Porter’s You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To. Gene Pitts, publisher of The Audiophile Voice, which praised BSQ’s first CD, T’ain’t What’Cha Do, comments on hearing this cut, “It’s amazing how much Nina’s vocals add – love how she works with the guitar and the sax.” Next up is a lush ballad, With Your hand In Mine, by the great Harry Warren (At Last, I Only Have Eyes For You, There’ll Never Be Another You …). Bob and David found this song in his archives when researching David’s 2010 CD Sing Me A Love Song – Harry Warren’s Undiscovered Standards. In only the second issued recording of this tune, Bob and Rob take full advantage of David’s harmonization.
Bob shows off his flute chops and Nina her range on Tadd Dameron’s Tadd’s Delight, set here as a prelude to the Gershwins’ But Not For Me, including Ira’s classic verse and couplet (“I never want to hear from any cheerful Polyannas, Who tell you fate supplies a mate … it’s all bananas!”). The serious sambas and flute dynamics start with Jobim’s O Grande Amor, a longtime Getz – Gilberto favorite of the band, on which Tony digs deep into his enormous percussion case. Then come Al Cohn and (more) Harry Warren celebrations, a Bob original, and the title tune, written in 1919 by Jerome Kern and done here as a raucous samba parade for which Tony empties the rest of his percussion case.
DC-based bands never forget Duke Ellington. Before Billy Strayhorn came along with Take The A Train, Duke’s closing concert and radio theme was Warm Valley. Bob loves the warm high end of his 1953 Super Balanced Action tenor, so does it all in the upper register. The reflective closing is just BSQ – Bob, Rob, Herb, and Steve.