Music For The Last Flower (A Suite For Jazz Quintet) (Planet Arts 3013-25; USA) Featuring Diane Moser on piano with Marty Ehrlich on alto sax & clarinet, Ben Williams on trombone, Mark Dresser on contrabass and Gerry Hemingway on drums. I’ve known Ms. Moser for more than a decade mostly as a longtime supporter of DMG. I know that she is originally from Southern California and worked with Mark Dresser and Diamanda Galas way back when. I’ve also heard her fine duo CD with Mr. Dresser (on CIMP) and know that she has an ongoing big band which includes a number of fine musicians who also live in New Jersey where the band plays semi-regularly.
Considering that she has so few recordings and is vastly under-recognized, I was surprised how much work was put into this disc. Ms. Moser has put together an amazing quintet with a number of Downtown greats like Marty Ehrlich, Ben Williams, Mark Dresser (currently in San Diego) and Gerry Hemingway (currently in Switzerland). This disc is a jazz suite inspired by a book by James Thurder called, “The Last Flower, A Parable in Pictures”. This book was written in 1939 and deals with the hopelessness of war and the hope for peace. I was playing Ed Palermo’s (another Jersey-ite like myself), recent tribute to Frank Zappa the other day at the store and played this disc next. The opening of this disc has a short blast of strange vocals which reminded me and other folks at DMG of the Mothers of Invention, Zappa’s main band in the 1960’s. It is a powerful opening leads quickly into a strong, tight, full quintet onslaught. This is a long piece which evolves through sections with solo bass into a somber chamber clarinet section. Ms. Moser plays some lovely, tranquil unaccompanied piano on “She Finds a Flower”, which evolves into the next piece “Love is Reborn” which features the great harmonious horns of Mr. Ehrlich on alto sax and Mr. Williams of trombone. Later in this piece the entire quintet and especially both horn blast off into some dizzying rapids with amazingly spirited interplay between all five members. The last piece is another elegant chamber like piece in which all members are utilized perfectly, playing with more restraint and than is usually the case for their more regular further out offerings. This entire suite works well as a whole and tells a handful of connected short stories.