The Reggie Pittman/Loren Daniels Quartet brightens moods on “Smilessence”

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Jazz pioneers and songwriters, Reggie Pittman and Loren Daniels have released a second CD with their quartet. Comprised of formidable jazz talent, the group has endowed the songs on “Smilessence” with moods and textures that make the album different from what is expected.

“Smilessence” overview

In terms of instrumentation, what stands out are the horns and piano, played by the leaders. Pittman has duties on trumpet and flugelhorn, and Daniels plays organ, electric piano and piano.

From the first song, to the title track, a mood is set. There is an urbanity about the work that never gets morose. Just as most of the US is beginning to experience fall weather, this CD comes along to brighten moods. But the work is not just light sounds–in fact, there are deep grooves and swaying rhythms throughout. But the dynamics, especially when one of Pittman’s horns is showcased, or Daniels’ finds a catchy piano motif to wrap around an improvised section, keep the songs moving.

About the leaders

The backgrounds of each member of The Reggie Pittman/Loren Daniels Quartet is worthy of discussion. One listen to the CD and it is clear that the group is comprised of seasoned jazz veterans. Each horn note, drum crash or cymbal tap, is purposeful.

Loren Daniels

Daniels’ involvement with jazz is far-reaching. Not only has he played with other talented musicians over the years, but he also founded “Jazz in the Spirit” a worship series at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Teaneck, New Jersey.

In addition to playing, Daniels has also composed for other musicians, and also has written or arranged most of the songs on “Smilessence.” His work can be heard in the performances of large and small choral ensembles,  and in collaboration with choreographers, theatrical works and television productions. Daniels has also provided the soundtrack for children’s programming.

Daniels’ educational background and subsequent performance experience probably aids in the success of varied projects. He has a B.S. in Music/Education, and an M.A. in Music Education.

Reggie Pittman

It is stated that Pittman lives the quintessential New York City life as a working musician. Perhaps it is this experience that gives the Quartet the vibe it has. Throughout the work, there is a classic swing feel that many associate with New York City.

Pittman prepared for a life as a working musician while earning a Bachelors degree in Music Education, and a Masters degree in Music Technology. Over the years, the musicians Pittman has been associated with have been household names: Duke Ellington Band at Carnegie Hall, Aretha Franklin, Sarah Vaughn, The Temptations, Allman Brothers, Queen Latifah, Clay Aiken, and others.

But apparently Pittman’s energies extend beyond opportunities for himself. He also provides scholarships for students in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. Pittman has taken students as far as China to further their educations. Seemingly not one to settle, regardless of accomplishments, Pittman is quoted as saying, “The best is yet to come!” Pittman has been nominated for both Grammy and Tony awards.

While the entire CD is an excellent example of modern jazz, the title track, “Knee High to a Bee (Bop!)” and “Shaky Leg (pt. 2)” are excellent examples of what The Reggie Pittman/Loren Daniels Quartet can accomplish. It will be interesting to hear what their next recording has to offer.

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