Quentin Angus

The State Of Things
(Outside In Music)

Guitarist Quentin Angus’ fourth album wears its gushing heart so freely on its sleeve in its song choices, but perhaps this is to be expected for Angus’ first release with his new position of father and professor on his mind. Still, to go for the saccharine sweet standards, one can play “Pure Imagination,” “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” or “What A Wonderful World,” but it’s asking a lot to play all three.

Nevertheless, this is a talented group releasing peppy music with lift and loft. Michael Mayo is a lovely vocalist with a pure tone that seems to strive for a pop sound through jazz conventions, which fits distinctly for this project. This music is affable, and these players have chops, but the direction of the tone Angus is expressing in his arrangements feels so much like a wet blanket that means well, particularly in meaning to be a warm blanket. It’s not hard to forget one is listening to it, it’s that pleasant.

Album centerpiece “Enigma,” one of the few largely instrumental songs on the album (with Mayo scatting throughout), truly grabs attention because the composition finally facilitates them letting loose, and Nate Smith definitely does on the drums; Can Olgun does as well, though he had been all along in the fits and starts allowed alongside bassist Desmond White.

All these folks sound great, Angus included. “Enigma” makes one wonder why the rest of the album doesn’t sound more like this. What could they do with better material?