Kevin O’Donnell’s Quality Six

Kevin O'Donnell's strapping young lads.

Kevin O’Donnell’s Quality Six was a fine Jazz band.  Originally formed in Chicago the band had a superb line up some serious players.  I get the feeling that this band was never intended to be a full time gig.  It was more of a break from whatever projects the players had going at the time.  That certainly would explain the two year/two album life cycle.  Whatever the reasons for its short life span Kevin O’Donnell’s Quality Six managed to create two very original “quality” jazz albums.

The lineup went something like this Kevin O’Donnell, Andrew Bird, Josh Hirsch, Colin Bunn, Chris Green and David Dieckmann.  On the second album David Dieckmann was switched out with Josh Bell.  Andrew Bird’s vocals are excellent.  He matches the mood of the music perfectly with a relaxed almost drunkard slur.  It’s good though.  Kevin O’Donnell’s drumming is of course top notch and he even tells a few humorous stories on some tracks, which again play to the mood of the albums.  I have no idea how the recording sessions really went but by the music alone you’d think it was just a bunch of young talented musicians kicking back and cranking out a few tunes, then they all went out for drinks.

I find this type of jazz to be very straightforward, almost stereotypical.  None of these songs contain any rocking out ten minute brass thunderstorms that are going to send small forest creatures to the tree tops.  If you’re going to fight the Iron Sheik and Rowdy Roddy Piper in a battle royal this is not the music you’d want playing as you walk down the stadium isle to your certain doom.  Sure it’s got sax solos, a few violin solos in there, drums too, actually at some point through the albums each instrument gets a shot but the solos aren’t what drives the songs, they serve to extenuate overall vibe of the songs.  Just multiple instruments being played harmoniously, there’s no show boating soloist forcing the other members into a purely backup roll.  This form of controlled fireworks is it’s driving force and also a sign of a “quality” jazz album.

It’s the refined sound that makes these albums timeless.  If you didn’t know what year these albums were recorded you’d have a heck of a time figuring it out based on the music alone.  It’s just jazz, straight up.

Here is Kevin O’Donnell’s Quality Six massive catalog…

1) Heretic Blues [1999]
2) Control Freak [2000]

1 comment to Kevin O’Donnell’s Quality Six

  •  petula

    I think we’ll listen to one of these albums in the car today! Clara will be excited, she likes to get down with quality jazz.

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