When Art Blakey documented his quintets at Birdland, it was indeed "the jazz corner of the world". Charlie O's, away from the bright lights, big city of Los Angeles, has been a regular stop for local legends and on May 27, 2003, played host to a lyrical quartet- Chris Colangelo(bass), Benn Clatworthy(tenor), Otmaro Ruiz(piano) and Jim Paxson(drums).
John Coltrane's "Moments Notice" is a spirited kick off to "Live" and features lengthy runs from Clatworthy, his big, brimming tenor tone abound, and Ruiz' roaring piano motivating the melody. "You're a Weaver of Dreams", a highlight of Cannonball Adderly Quintet in Chicago, is also introduced by a seductive tenor. However, Clatworthy's beautiful explorations and his sophisticated swing are memorable on their own terms. "Body and Soul", immortalized in jazz by everyone from Louis Armstrong to Lester Young, was written for Clatwothy's grandmother, lauded stage star Gertrude Lawrence in 1930. Clatwothy and Ruiz gave a tasteful rendition that is richly textured and their heartfelt melodicism is simply original in its elegance. The classic "Softly as in a Morning Sunrise" is a vehical for Colangelo's pulsating and hypnotic basslines and Paxson's percussive vocabulary. The egoless bop and musical interplay recalls Sonny Rollins' " A Night at the Village Vanguard". "Live" concludes with a rousing rendition of Duke Ellington's "Caravan". Sparked by Paxson's outstanding cymbal work and Colangelo's infectious groove, Clatworthy and Ruiz are convincingly in top form.
"Live" is exquisite jazz from four impeccable musicians. Charlie O's, on this night, was certainly "the jazz corner of the world".
- Fred Jung