Frank Irwin

This album is at its best when melodies are exhaled slowly and allowed to drift like a plume of smoke. When the Frank Irwin Quintet roll out a tune in this fashion, the music emotes an appealing moodiness. And it’s the kind of thing that sticks. Even if the electricity on the piece gets upped a notch or three, there remains a contemplative presence that behaves as the context for any volatility that follows. The contributions of trombonist James Powers go a long way to cementing this impression, especially during those times when his instrument acts as the bonding harmonic element between tenor sax and guitar. Those moments when the trio coalesce into a unified sound are some of the best moments Better/Broken has to offer. There’s an odd bit of spoken word piece jammed into the middle of the recording. In and of itself, there’s nothing wrong with the tune. It’d be interesting to see what comes of Irwin creating an album of just that kind of material. But it’s effect is jarring in terms of album cohesion. It’s about the only criticism I have of this solid recording. There are pieces that I find myself borderline addicted to. Go check it out. from

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