May 2007

Honolulu Jazz Quartet - Tenacity
HJQ Records 2966
Format: CD
Released: 2006

by Katherine Silkaitis

Musical Performance ****1/2
Recording Quality ****1/2
Overall Enjoyment ****1/2

It is a hard life for a jazz musician in Hawaii. No, really. Though the weather might be gorgeous, the state lacks the sheer volume of venues that can be found in the contiguous United States. And touring outside of the islands presents its own challenges. But the Honolulu Jazz Quartet exemplifies everything a group can bring to the table. Beautifully recorded with strong playing from all four members, the group’s Tenacity is an exercise in tight arrangements, colorful voices and crystal-clear sound.

Led by bassist John Kolivas, the group plays well together, blending their four instruments into fully melded sounds. Kolivas’s bass is deep and emotive, especially on slow tracks like "The Indians," which he also composed. The funky, sparse "Midlife" is quite dependent on drummer Adam Baron’s well-timed beats and syncopated rhythms, which accompany a fast sax melody, while Dan Del Negro’s piano ably and quickly accompanies them both.

Tim Tsukiyama’s smooth, full-bodied saxophone is inescapable on this album and is most impressive on the final track, his self-composed "Are We There Yet?" With a catchy rhythm and playful harmonies, the track is one of the album’s most memorable. Nearly all of the album’s tracks are composed by a member of the Quartet, and the one that isn’t, "Real Old Style," is a rearrangement of a fellow Hawaiian jazz musician’s tune, thus keeping the whole album "in the family." The tunes all sound unique and well thought out -- a natural complement to the high level of musicianship on this album.