Looking Forward, Looking Back

Diane Moser Quintet, Looking Forward, Looking Back, Twin Rivers Records TR223, 2002.

Track Listing and samples

  1. Buzzin’ ‘Round Your Hive
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  2. Eye to Eye
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  3. Myrtle Avenue A.M. Shuffle
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  4. Hemlock Gardens
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  5. Farewell Pop Pop
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  6. For My Mother
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Musicians

  • Diane Moser — piano
  • Ben Williams — trombone
  • Bob Hanlon — tenor and soprano saxophones
  • Andy Eulau — bass
  • Barbara Allen — drums

The Diane Moser Quintet recorded live at the Burgdorff Cultural Center in Maplewood, New Jersey on April 20, 2001.

Liner Notes

Buzzin’ ‘Round Your Hive, Bob Hanlon, Skeptophonia Music (ASCAP)
When I _as caming up in the the 1960’s, the Cannonball Adderley Quintet was one of Me most popular jazz groups around. And no wonder–a great group lead by an incredible saxophonist. “Buzzin'” is inf1uenced by the originals from that group written by Cannonball, Nat and Joe Zawinul. It’s funky, but harmonically interesting for the improviser.

Eye to Eye, Bob Hanlon, Skeptophonia Music (ASCAP)
Thìs tune was written for George Russell’s Band for an extended gig at the Village Vanguard during a hiatus by the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Band in 1982. You can hear the influence of George’s writing in the tune itself… the reggae thing was very new for jazzz at the time… I’m surprised there hasn’t been more use of that groove.

Myrtle Avenue A.M. Shuffle, Diane Moser, BMI
This is a piece that I wrote while living in Brooklyn, off Myrtle Avenue of course. It’s a very long avenue with a very unique vibe. I love the opening of this piece: rush-hour from a distance–then bam!–you’re right in the middle of it! I have to say that among all the happenings on Myrtle (including one night when I foiled a would-be robber and his gun from taking my last 10 bucks!), was an old man who used to shuffle down the avenue, repeating over and over “she told me… she told me what to do.” He continued this throughout the fall and then he seemed to disappear until spring. Then I saw him again, shuffling down the street, but this time his repetitions were “oh no..oh no…” I guess he didn’t do what she told him.

Hemlock Gardens, Ben Williams, Orange Trail Publishing
Hemlock Gardens is a place in thee woods my brother Tom and I spent many a lazy day as kids. I specifically had Barb, Andy and Diane in mind when I wrote the selections of implied time, as they feel the flow and implications of melody wonderfully. It was Andy’s idea to have thee horns “chase” him wifh the melody, and I think it works well. The solo sections vary according to the soloist, showcasing Bob’s harmonic and melodic inventiveness and Diane’s lovely introspection.

Farewell Pop Pop, Ben Williams, Orange Trail Publishing
Pop-Pop is the name my son Sam gave to my father-in-law. The inspiration for this tune came from some music I heard on the radio while driving around late one night on Sea Island, Georgia. What I originally called a “Presbyterian Waltz” was given some extra grits by Diane!

For My Mother, Diane Moser, BMI
In December of 1998, my mother died, it was very sudden and very unexpected. The memoriol service would be in 5 days, and I had 3 days to prepare some music. I sat at their church piano every day, playing her favorite tunes, working out arrangements, but nothing seemed to work. On the third day, I sat at the piano, and “talked” to my mother, “okay mom, what would you like me to play”? Nothing. No answer. Silence. Then something told me to think about Rave1 and Debussy, and the piece that they had composed for the anniversary of Haydn’s death. They assigned letters of the musical alphabet to his name, and then used that as a motif in their compositions. Talking to myself, I thought this might work. I used my mother’s full name, changed a few notes, flats, sharps, and worked with some harmonies. The next day was the service, and I played this piece, improvising in and around the tune, while also creating some open spaces. Since theen, it has gone through many variations, from solo piano, to trio with bassist Mark Dresser and vocalist Lisa Sokolov, to arranging it for my big band, and now for the quintet. In each case, different soloists have added their own unique sound and musical ideas to this piece, continuing it’s development to a new level every time it is played. Through the ideas of the members of this quintet, we have added more open spaces, where we all seem to breath together, flowing from section to section. I’m not sure where that idea came from that day in the church, but I’m pretty sure my mother had something to do with it.

Diane Moser Quintet in the Press

There’s nothing like a live recording to separate the men from the boys, or the hotshots from the wannabes, as it were. You simply can’t fix it in the mix. And when the content consists of extended jazz jams of original works, the bar is set that much higher. Nevertheless, the Diane Moser Quintet of pianist Diane Moser, saxophonist Bob Hanlon, trombonist Ben Williams, bassist Andy Eulau, and drummer Barbara Allen heed the call and clear that self-set bar.

The result is some seriously highbrow instrumental jazz that is urbane and intricate though easily enjoyable. Tightly wound yet sparingly rendered, the compositions of Moser, Hanlon, and Williams–each have two pieces–are brought to exquisite life. The arrangements and performances keep the listener engaged but not anxious. There’s room to breathe here even as each of the players gets more than a few moments in the sun for some decidedly ornate step-outs.

Moods ebb and flow throughout the individual tracks and the collection as a whole. Moser brings it home, quite literally, to close on a sentimental note with a quiet piece entitled “For My Mother.” It’s a tender coda for this grand opus.

— Kelly McCartney, Chronogram Magazine

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