Only 34 minutes long, drummer Reggie Quinerly's quintet recording New York Nowhere
practically qualifies as an audio postcard to his adopted hometown from 1999 to 2020. The Houston native's fourth release since relocating to the Big Apple was completed shortly before the 40-year-old drummer and composer of all seven tracks relocated to Los Angeles.
Quinerly’s education toward his Master’s in Jazz Studies at the Juilliard School included the tutelage of former Miles Davis drummer Jimmy Cobb, and he shows elements of that training from the downbeat. After a brief introduction by pianist John Chin and bassist Sean Conly on the opening post-bop piece “Reflections on the Hudson,” Quinerly enters with a flourish à la Cobb’s on “So What,” from Davis’ 1959 classic Kind of Blue
. More reflective is the subsequent ballad “Dreaming in Place,” featuring interplay between tenor saxophonist John Ellis and trumpeter Antoine Drye, whose chemistry is the result of 30 years of live dates and recordings.
Chin and Conly likewise go back decades, and the pianist’s solos and chords are in lockstep with the bassist on “Somewhere on Houston,” Quinerly’s whimsical ode to the Manhattan thoroughfare which shares the name (if not the pronunciation) of his birthplace. “New York Nights,” the drummer’s traditional bop tune reprised at disc’s end as a Latin vehicle, showcases the influence of Quinerly’s other Juilliard mentors, Lewis Nash and Kenny Washington. “Celso,” a tribute to Brazilian vocalist-guitarist Celso Fonseca, adds suitable bossa nova elements through Drye’s trumpet lines and its minimalist drum pattern. To this point, unsuspecting listeners might not guess that this was a drummer’s project, even after Quinerly’s lone solo on the tongue-in-cheek “Wine Cooler Heads Prevail.” But as he learned from the masters, and illustrates on the brief New York Nowhere
, less can often be more. — Bill Meredith