Jeff Holmes, piano/keys and trumpet
Tom Giampietro, drums
Felipe Salles saxophones
Fumi Tomita, bass
….or HGTS (the ‘acronym’ of their last names) – rolls through this entertaining program of original jazz in an elegant sort of way, interacting as the group of friends, and incredible musicians, that they are…This is radiant music!
Jeff Holmes is pianist with the Paul Winter Consort, a multiple NEA Composition grant recipient and leader of the Jeff Holmes Big Band featuring Dawning Holmes, vocals, and Jeff Holmes Quartet. Thomas Giampietro has been fortunate to have opportunities to record and perform all over the U.S. with artists such as Jeff Coffin, Tim O’Brien and Casey Driessen. A native of São Paulo, Brazil and an active performer and composer in the U.S. since 1995, Felipe Salles was the 2018 recipient of a Guggenheim Foundation Composition Fellowship resulting in his latest recording The New Immigrant Experience. Fumi Tomita was active in New York for many years and his latest recording is The Elephant Vanishes: Jazz Interpretations of the Short Stories of Haruki Murakami.
Colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the area of Jazz and African American Music Studies, HGTS brings music to new heights with dynamic original music that explores stylistic variety while balancing improvisational interplay, group dynamics, and arranged ensemble.
“…This is a group of friends making music together. You can hear that their stories are intertwined and this makes the music come alive in a particular way. There is no substitute for familiarity…” -Jeff Coffin
“Wow, this entry by U of Mass Jazz Faculty…is just a first class endeavor with wonderfully melodic yet some complex original compositions in different ‘bags’ by all, and great playing no matter what ‘bag’ they are in! It all holds together well too. When they wanna swing, swing they do, and when it’s ‘in the pocket’ playing, in the pocket it is! So check this one out from beginning to end to get the full picture!” -Randy Brecker
Normally, when you get a record that escapes from college, it’s a bunch of bright students showing off what they can do. This time out it’s the faculty, and these are cats you already know as smart jazzbos. Playing it after hours style, this can swing like, well, the pros that they are. A solid session that shows jazz is alive and well no matter how goofy things are getting. Well done.
-Chris Spector for Midwest Record
Classic and classy sounds are delivered by the team of Jeff Holmes on piano and trumpet, Thomas Giampietro hitting the drums, bassist Fumi Tomita and Felipe Salles playing a rotating section of saxes on this collection of originals. The name of the band comes from the first letter of each member’s last name, and you’d think with such clever music that a more original moniker could have been dreamed up.
The music, however, is filled with great ideas, as when Holmes takes up his trumpet and bops with Salles’ tenor on “Rowley Street” that includes a nimble solo by Tomita or when he switches to keyboards to get into a soulful mood with Salles’ alto and Tomita’s electric strings on the finger snapping “Minnesota in Montana”. Salles’ soprano floats with serenity over rich piano musings on “Not At All” and displays passion on the rich rubato’d “Faith Rewarded”. Giampietro is crisp and sharp as he drives Holmes’ splashing ivories on the post bopping “Unintentional Hipness” and gives a steady swing to “Thornbush”. As vintage as a blue dinner jacket.
-George Harris for Jazz Weekly
The very first song, “Unintentional Hipness” grabbed my attention with its straight-ahead arrangement and staccato background groove. Written by the saxophonist of the group, Felipe Salles, this quartet of University of Massachusetts faculty members swings right off the bat. The tune is a home run. When Jeff Holmes enters on piano, he brings a sweetness and a mood change that is provocative.
“Not at All” was written by the group pianist, Jeff Holmes, and its sultry melody slows the pace. The third track, “Rowley Street” features the composer talents of their bass player, Fumi Tomita. It features Holmes getting up from the piano to play the trumpet on this cut. Salles shows his spunk and spark on saxophone and throughout, Fumi Tomita pumps that walking bass into this piece with power and tenacity. Thomas Giampietro sparkles in the spotlight on his drums and the trumpeter and saxophonist play tag as they enter the piece playfully after the drum solo. They follow this improvisation by playing the melody in unison. This quartet of musicians is in perfect sync.
Every member of this HGTS group is a composer and together, they cohesively unite to self-express as a singular, tightly-performed unit. The fourth cut is the title tune. It features a funky arrangement and a strong, but repetitious melody. One of my favorites on this album is the fifth cut, “Arrival” that opens with a bass solo, with Tomita setting the melody in place against the warm piano chords of Holmes. Felipe Salles plays a sexy saxophone solo on this piece he’s composed and Giampietro colors the arrangement brightly on his trap drums. Holmes takes a turn to interpret this pretty ballad on piano, as does Tomita on bass. “Minnesota in Montana” is a funky tune, penned by Tomita. It’s smooth jazz with an R&B flare and thickly supported by the funky drums of Giampietro. Jeff Holmes pulls out his blues chops on this one. I’ll borrow from a quote by Jeff Coffin in the liner notes.
“You can tell from the downbeat that this is not just another group of musicians making a record. This is a group of friends making music together.”