NO PIANOS REQUIRED: The Louis Romanos Quartet: Take Me There, Ken Thomson and Slow/Fast: Settle

All the chords that are needed on these two releases are provided by six stringers. Help preserve ivory!

Drummer Louis Romanos has put together a simpatico quartet that delivers communicative post bop sounds. The unorthodox team of Dan Summer/g, Alex Noppe/tp and Neal Starkey/b make use of subtle shifts and complex arrangements as on the sleek “Songo”  and dark “Something Differeng.” Summer’s guitar can be dainty as on the dellicate “Lovely,” electric and bluesy on “Changes” and dark on “Something Different.” Noppe’s horn is clean and clear, serenading on “Far Away” and graceful on “Second Song.” Through it all, Romanos changes the undercurrent to add extra drama, with a playful feel on “Klezmer” and an assertive restlessness on “Bruggermann Jam.” Bop chops pop into the scene on “Green in Blew” and the rhythm chimes with guitar on “Spiritual.” Quite communicative and intelligent without coming off as sterile.

Ken Thomson plays alto sax, bass clarinet and leads a quitet with Russ Johnson/’tp, Nir Felder/g, Adam Armstrong/b and Fred Kennedy/dr through six tunes penned by the captain. He’s got a Cannonball Adderley brightness and warmth to his tone on the alto, and uses it well on the 5/4 Mediterranean dance on “Settle” that is both feisty and emotional. Some clever uses of rhythm are noted on the Morse Codey “Welding For Freedom” that sets out the theme in dots and dashes, and “Bend Towards Light” feels like a march of the peg legs. The serpentine “We Are Not All IN This Together” features Thomson’s bass clarinet winding around Johnson’s trumpet. Johnson’s horn melds well on the dreamy “Spring” which includes some lyrical guitar and bowed bass, and the pastoral “Coda” is a lovely mix of reed and brass blowing like linen sheets.


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