by Douglas Reid
Simple Pleasures……by Sine Qua Non
Sine Qua Non is a Washington, DC based quintet which features bandleader and bassist Michael Bowie, Victor Provost (Steel Pan), Lyle Link (Multi-reeds), Mark Prince (drums) and Sam “Sequito” Turner (percussion). While each of the group members have been playing for some time, Simple Pleasures is the debut album for Sine Qua Non as a quintet.
Besides being the group leader, Michael Bowie is also the primary composer for the group and on Simple Pleasures, the quintet does not just play together it is more of a blending of all their talents that makes their sound so uniquely special.
The album opens with “Trouble in Easton” which showcases Victor Provost skills on Steel Pan, with such command of the instrument it is quite obvious he has a great passion for making music. As the rest of group joins in, the sound just grows and envelops you. The key to this quintet’s success is its ability to invoke a certain amount of imagery through their music.
Track after track you can see how well the five members mesh their individual instruments into beautiful music that is sure to please everyone. “Fragile” a well-known Sting tune, will not be what you would expect from the title, it is filled with sharp tones from Michael Bowie’s bass and Victor Provost’s Steel Pan which gives the track and elevated energy. A truly pleasing take on a well-covered tune, which is given new life.
Each song has its own unique tie including “Azulejos” which has a link to the ancient history of Spain. The tune “Beautiful Land” has a tie to a foreign land and is performed in memory of South African pianist Bheki Mseleku. The unique combination of the flute and conga sounds from Lyle Link (Flute) and Sam Turner (Percussion) are on full display in “La Danza Mysterioso.”
The album is actually a tale of two halves, the first half is adorned with a more breezy sound that focuses on an easy going sound, whereas the second half definitely contains much more high energy performances and a different textural sound as compared to opening half, which eases the listener in with a more gentle sound, this building is paced like a live set, which makes the CD even more inviting. The final song “Mastermind” was written by and performed (vocally) by Leo Manzari and features a rock infused, rap vibe, taking the release to a fervor and showing the diversity of Sine Qua Non as a group. A perfect set, a perfect ending. Kudos and Simple Pleasures.
Album Tracks: Trouble in Easton (Xeno trilogy pt.II), Enfance, Fragile, Azulejos, Beautiful Land, Qumba, Beautiful Coda, La Danza Mysterioso, Preludio, Simple Pleasures, Mastermind ft. Leo Manzari.
Group Members: Michael Bowie (Bassist-Group Leader), Victor Provost (Steel Pan), Lyle Link (Multi-reeds), Mark Prince (Drums), Sam “Sequito” Turner (Percussions).
Record Label: Transoul