Moser presents a suite she composed with grants from Chamber Music America played by a handpicked band that can sound like a hard bop quintet as well as an avant-garde chamber jazz ensemble.
Music for the Last Flower, Diane Moser Quintet (Planet Arts), is a six-part suite inspired by the “parable in pictures” book of the same name by James Thurber depicting war and its aftermath. The quintet’s musicians—reedman Marty Ehrlich, trombonist Ben Williams, bassist Mark Dresser, drummer Gerry Hemingway and pianist Moser—use Mingus Workshop style expressionism to depict the sounds of war on the opening piece with blaring horns and rasping bass and drums giving way to a pounding, atonal piano solo that settles into brief jazz passages. Then the moans of an arco bass lead to the second movement, “…when love is no longer…,” a lyrically evocative trio track of clarinet, piano and bass with a spare folkish melody repeated by all, including both arco and pizzicato from Dresser. The third movement is an even more lyrical piano solo, Moser folding arpeggios into swelling chords and a swaying dance figure tune. The quintet reassembles as a Latin-tinged hard bop ensemble for the fourth movement complete with robust horn solos, then the rumbles of war return on the fifth movement, an elaboration of themes from the first. The final movement is a hymn-like dirge with a hint of optimism, reflected in the title: “…a hope for peace…”
By George Kanzler May 2014 Hot House Jazz