The second best thing to live jazz


Live at the Jazz Corner, The Noel Freidline Quintet

The Noel Freidline Quintent

The Noel Freidline Quintent

Jazz critic Whitney Balliett called it "the sound of surprise." Improvisation is the cornerstone of jazz, and when it's done right—in a balance of logic and serendipity—it creates a shared exuberance between musician and listener. That's why there is no substitute for hearing good jazz played live.

But if you can’t be there, the next best thing is a live recording. Live at the Jazz Corner, the latest album from the Noel Freidline Quintet, was recorded at the Jazz Corner in Hilton Head, S.C., and it quivers with the sound of surprise. That thrill is best witnessed on "Route 66," which Freidline opens with a jaunty stride-piano introduction. The old jazz standard heats up as Renée Ebalaroza sings the first verse, then kicks into overdrive with a frenetic set of choruses by saxophonist Juan Rollan and Freidline. "Smokin'" is the only word that does it justice. And the crowd, predictably, goes wild.

Exhilaration is not the only emotion explored. "Unchained Melody," which highlights a smoother side of Rollan's sax, slowly burns with sensuality. Jim Morrison's "Light My Fire" becomes almost meditative.

Freidline is probably the best jazz pianist in this area, and he is joined by excellent musicians. Plus, the good thing about this album is the reminder that you can, in fact, hear this quintet live. Available at .

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