Canadian Jazz Quartet
Cornerstone CRST CD 133
The Canadian Jazz Quartet (Gary Benson, guitar, Frank Wright, vibraphone, Duncan Hopkins, bass and Don Vickery, drums) has been an important part of the Canadian scene since 1987 - important because they have maintained a musical philosophy of playing great standards and making music that swings. Individually they are all talented, experienced soloists and as a group they blend beautifully. For this recording, the CJQ invited three guests to contribute one number each. Trombonist Alastair Kay gives a virtuoso performance on Memories of You, master flutist Bill McBirnie adds a Latin touch with Blue Bossa and Mike Murley on tenor sax romps through the title track, Just Friends. The remaining titles make up a cross-section of great standards and show tunes ranging from Gershwin’s Embraceable You to Clifford Brown’s Joy Spring.
This album also gives an all too rare opportunity for the playing of guitarist Gary Benson and vibes player Frank Wright to be heard by a wider audience. Frank’s rendition of Where Are You, for example, is a thing of beauty and just listen to how Gary glides through Have You Met Miss Jones. The DDs, (Hopkins and Vickery), make the whole thing swing like the pendulum of a finely oiled clock as well as contributing some fine solos.
All told “Just Friends” is an excellent example of discriminating taste and musicality and will occupy a pleasurable hour of any day or evening.