Reviews - 2011

Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Jul 29, 2011

Review: ‘Remembrance / Live at the Triple Door’

REVIEW BY JOHN BERGER / jberger@staradvertiser.com

Ten years is a long time to keep a group together. The Honolulu Jazz Quartet — John Kolivas (bass), Tim Tsukiyama (sax), Dan Del Negro (piano) and von Baron (drums) — celebrates that milestone in great style here.

All but one of the nine tracks are from a gig at a Seattle nightclub. Kolivas’ brother, John Pennybacker, writes in the liner notes: “Studio recordings capture a jazz group as it would like to be. Live recordings capture a jazz group as it is. And in the world of jazz, is is far more exciting than would.”

Right he is! It doesn¹t take anything away from the quartet¹s two studio albums to applaud the verve of these recordings. Like the four equal partners they are, each guy steps forward for well-deserved solos, and each steps back so that the others can shine.

All things considered, the most notable track is the quartet¹s imaginative reworking of Keola Beamer’s “The Real Old Style” as acoustic jazz. While their own instrumental compositions all deserve careful listening, their
take on Beamer also displays their skill as arrangers of artists’ work in other musical genres.

The quartet commemorates its 10th anniversary by closing the album with the group’s first-ever recording, “Remembrance,” written by Kolivas and Pennybacker in 2001 in response to the 9/11 attacks. Including the song — a studio recording made with vocalist Anita Hall and Richie Pratt on drums — breaks the “live” format, but with the exception of a line about “a hole in the sky,” the song and its sentiments can now be heard in a broader context.

‘Remembrance / Live At The Triple Door’

Honolulu Jazz Quartet (HJQ Records)

Available now via CD Baby

Related Post:

PICS: Honolulu Jazz Quartet’s 10th anniversary at Gordon Biersch

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Honolulu Jazz Quartet Heats Up Volcano

The Honolulu Jazz Quartet with Junior Choy played at the Volcano Art Center on Saturday, January 15, 2011, at the Kilauea Military Camp theater in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park.

Band leader John Kolivas appeared on base, Tim Tsukiyama on saxophone, Dan Del Negro on Piano, and Adam Baron on drums.

The opening numbers highlighted the fresh and innovative originals of bassist Kolivas and a swinging, straight-ahead original by saxophonist Tsukyama. The meter, melody and harmonics exuded brilliance and wit.

Drummer Adam Baron was the core improviser on Kolivas’ memorable and humorous autobiographical original “The Heater”. Kolivas’ takes the audience on an auditory journey of a baffled Hawaiian dealing with a noisy furnace on a sleepless cold winter night in a New York City apartment house.

Founded in 2001, the quartet has that glue that only happens when a group is together this long. This glue is the difference between music and magic.

Later in the set the band introduced Big Island’s favorite maestro, Volcano Choy on trumpet. Kolivas and Choy were childhood friends and formed a band in high school. The group of teenagers scored a steady gig on Waikiki that lasted for years. Trumpeter, Choy, surprised audiences with his beautiful vocal rendition of Freddie Hubbard’s jazz waltz, “Up Jumped Spring”.

Next the set opened to “jazz royalty”. In the audience was none other than Ray Brown Jr., the son of legendary bassist, Ray Brown, and “the first lady of song”, Ella Fitzgerald. The HJQ morphed to a hot open session while supporting the charismatic Brown crooning on the classic jazz favorite, “Sunnyside of the Street”.

Moon’s Landing was the perfect opener for the HJQ. Moon’s Landing is headed up by another member of “jazz royalty”: saxophonist, Moon Brown. Brown is nephew to one of the most influential trumpeters of all time, Clifford Brown, Jr., who died tragically at the age of 25 in 1956. Brown charmed the audience with his big personality and fat bluesy sound.

His playing is complemented by the sophisticated song stylist, Maelan Abram. Seasoned much beyond her years, Maelan showed range and versatility with the heart wrenching ballad, “Masquerade”, and the challenging vocalese riff tune, “Moody’s Mood for Love”. This song was the pioneer example of lyrics written to fit the contours of an instrumental solo.

Eddie Jefferson put lyrics to James Moody’s brilliant sax solo, and a new song was born. “Moody’s Mood for Love” was made popular in 1954 by King Pleasure and Blosson Dearie and was a fresh and exciting selection for the evening. Other selections we crowd pleasing favorites such as Route 66 and Summertime. These standards took on their own with a layer of complex rhythms delivered by Big Island’s favorite drummer, Bruce David as well as the dynamic and harmonically riveting solos by the Honokaa piano maestro, Gary Washburn.

Many thanks to David Wallerstein and the Volcano Arts Center for a wonderful evening of top-notch entertainment.


CD Reviews - May 2007
by George Fendel


Jazz Society of Oregon review: http://www.jsojazzscene.org/CDReviews/200705_CDReviews.htm
Tenacity, Honolulu Jazz Quartet. And here we always thought that it was all swaying palms and tiny bubbles over there in paradise. Not quite. And why? Well, along comes the Honolulu Jazz Quartet to convince us that jazz is alive and well in 50th state. The HJQ is comprised of John Kolivas, bass and leader; Tim Tsukiyama, tenor and soprano saxophones; Don Del Negro, piano; and Adam Baron, drums. Nine original compositions by various group members make up this album. Kolivas's title tune, Tenacity, gives Tsukiyama and Del Negro a chance to test their bop chops at high velocity. For contrast, try "The Indians," a very lovely ballad featuring Tsukiyama's tenor. Kolivas also contributed a blues, The Keez Is In The Car. Could that title be a salute to pianist Geoff Keezer? Chillin' At The Club once again features Tsukiyama's mellow tenor, a sound I much preferred over his soprano work. So, the next time you're in the Islands, and thinking there's no place to hear jazz within a five mile plane ride, check to see if the HWQ is playing someplace. It would be a nice bonus as part of your Hawaiian vacation. For more info on the HJQ, trywww.honolulujazzquartet.comSelf-produced, 2007; Playing Time: 65:35, ***1/2.



Jazz Improv Magazine (V7N3)
Review by Paul Sakion


TENACITY – HJQ Records 2007. www.honolulujazzquartet.comTenacity, Real Old Style, Midlife, “The Indians,” Honolulu Hang, Wayne’s Bounce, Chillin’ at the Crib, The Keez is in the Car, Are We There Yet?

PERSONNEL: John Kolivas, bass; Tim Tsukiyama, tenor and soprano saxophone; Dan Del Negro, piano; Adam Baron, drums
Jazz and Honolulu? What ever happened to island breezes, Hula music, and endless miles of perfect beaches? How can jazz be thriving without the grit and intensity of a New York or Los Angeles scene? It ain't easy, but the Honolulu Jazz Quartet (HJQ) has been making it happen for over six years through hard work and Tenacity, their second album.
Encouraged by national acclaim for their first album, Sounds of the City, and the attention of jazz writer Nat Hentoff (Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and many others), HJQ showcases the compositional and improvisational skills of four top session players. Kolivas’ talents particularly shine in varied pieces such as the title track “Tenacity”, “Midlife”, “’The Indians’”, “Wayne’s Bounce”, and “The Keez is in the Car” (named for pianist Geoffrey Keezer).
Other tracks, such as “Honolulu Hang” by Del Negro, could just have easily been named “Brooklyn Hang” with its Afro-Cuban feel, soaring sax lines, and exciting piano improvisations. Closing out the album, Tsukiyama’s “Are We There Yet?” combines his smooth sax work with an underlying funky groove to great effect.
Overall, Tenacity has staying power. Listen to it straight through or get it “a la shuffle” and you’ll find it to be an excellent experience. Better yet, escape the mainland and enjoy HJQ in Honolulu. You might find jazz just as enjoyable with a warm ocean breeze drifting through a Waikiki nightspot, and the only umbrella you will need will be in your Mai Tai!



Honolulu Weekly

[Permanent Link]

Tenacious four

by Stephen Fox / 02-14-2007

Honolulu Jazz Quartet

The Honolulu Jazz Quartet may be the hottest and coolest of the current island jazz scene. They celebrate the release of their second CD, Tenacity, with a concert next Tuesday at Punahou. The quartet is John Kolivas on bass, Dan Del Negro on piano, Tim Tsukiyama on sax and Adam Baron on drums. All are top session players, and together they form about the best jazz ensemble for which one could hope.

To be a pro jazz group, especially in Hawai‘i, is no easy thing, and HJQ has hung together for six years now. They chose the title Tenacity as an homage to the group’s dedication. The album is edgier than the first CD and showcases each member’s superb improvisational skills. The members penned eight of the tunes, and added a cover from long-time friend Keola Beamer, “Real Old Style.”

The group’s first album, Sounds of the City, was well received nationally, including attention from acclaimed jazz writer Nat Hentoff (Wall Street Journal and Jazz Times), who volunteered to write up liner notes for this album. Hentoff inspired Kolivas as a youngster to pursue a jazz career with his book Jazz Country. Kolivas sent him a copy of the first CD, and more recently the tracks for Tenacity—both impressed Hentoff enough to prompt his participation. He closes his notes, “I only write liner notes for recordings that make me want to hear them again—and again. It is a privilege to celebrate the Honolulu Jazz Quartet.”

The show opens with a screening of the film Jazz & The Creative Act, made by Kolivas’ brother Robert Pennybacker and starring the quartet.

Punahou School’s Wo International Center (Luke Lecture Hall), Tue. 2/20, 8pm, $10 general, $7 students and seniors. [honolulujazzquartet.com], 923-3909




By Wayne Harada

February 2, 2007

The Honolulu Jazz Quartet is on the brink of mainstream success with its second CD, loaded with luminous vibes.

·  "Tenacity" by the Honolulu Jazz Quartet; HJQ Records

·  Genre: Jazz.

·  Distinguishing notes: The Honolulu Jazz Quartet comes of age with their new world-class nine-song CD of originals.

Led by bassist John Kolivas' assured riffs and featuring the incomparable tenor and soprano saxophone sounds of Tim Tsukiyama, the indelible piano artistry of Dan Del Negro and the precision drumming of Adam Baron, the band is garnering praise from high places.

There are liner notes, and praise, from none other than jazz critic and historian Nat Hentoff, who honestly admits, "I only write liner notes for recordings that make me want to hear them again and again."

"Tenacity" — with its bright, classy packaging, equated by stellar workouts that demonstrate the capacity of each member of the foursome — looms as a marketable mainstream CD.

Kolivas, who performs with Keola Beamer whenever the singer-guitarist is in concert here and abroad, revives one of Beamer's signature tunes, "Real Old Style," and coats it with a splendid jazz waltz veneer, bringing new dimension, without words, to this longtime favorite.

The CD boasts a cache of luminous, lingering vibes, from Kolivas' "Midlife" and "Wayne's Bounce," to Del Negro's "Chillin' at the Crib" and Tsukiyama's "Are We There Yet." The musicians' influences — whether Coltrane, Miles, Blanchard or others — have settled into a relaxing and reassuring entity called the Honolulu Jazz Quartet.

·  Our take: "Tenacity" is more than a word; it's a driving force for the vaulting and happening Honolulu Jazz Quartet.

Note: The HJQ will perform a special launch concert at Punahou School's Luke Lecture Hall at 8 p.m. on Feb. 20. For reservations, call 923-3909 or go to www.honolulujazzquartet.com.


By John Berger

February 2, 2007


Honolulu Jazz Quartet
(Honolulu Jazz Quartet)

The long-awaited second full-length album by the Honolulu Jazz Quartet comes more than three years after the first, "Sounds of the City," in 2003. It is -- no surprise -- well worth the wait. Honolulu has a reasonable number of noteworthy jazz artists -- Jimmy Borges, Betty Loo Taylor and Noel Okimoto, to name three -- but the nature of the scene here limits opportunities for groups. The HJQ is tops in that category, and the quality of the cuts here attests to the value of working with the same players day in and day out.

The HJQ plays smooth mainstream acoustic jazz, with John Kolivas (bass) and Adam Baron (drums) working opposite Dan Del Negro (piano) and Tim Tsukiyama (sax). They also change it up, of course, with Del Negro sometimes joining the rhythm section and Kolivas taking an occasional solo.


The production notes reveal that these recordings were done live, rather than instrumental track by instrumental track; that's the way solid mainstream jazz albums should be done. Kolivas is the primary composer, but Del Negro and [Tsukiyama] also contributed to the set list -- the liner notes describe the circumstances that inspired them. The guys demonstrate their insights as arrangers in reworking Keola Beamer's vintage tune "Real Old Style" as mainstream jazz.





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 Sounds of the City

Honolulu Jazz Quartet     HJQ Records

 Dan McClenaghan – allaboutJazz.com

 Figure in all the innumerable ensemble configurations possible in jazz, and a soft spot still clings to my heart for the well-rendered quartet outing, saxophone and a rhythm section playing straightforward mainstream jazz. The Honolulu Jazz Quartet's Sounds of the City delivers just that.

Bassist John Kolivas leads the guartet, which has been together since 2001, developing a remarkable musical collectivity, an ensemble sound that, even when someone solos, it doesn't stand apart as a solo but fits into the music as a logical transition in the flow of sound. Kolivas anchors this sound with a big warm tone behind an infectious group empathy suffused with positive vibes (the Aloha Spirit perhaps), full of bright melodies that seem always to be telling a story. Then there's the musicianship—first rate all around.

Saxophonist Tim Tsukiyama's tenor blows in the round and airy side of the spectrum on “Remembrance,” and on the dry and slightly scratchy side, in front of Kolivas' loping bass, on ”Woody's Blues,” where he brings Dexter Gordon's work on those early (late '40s) Savoy recordings to mind. He is equally adept on soprano—”Cozumel Blues,” “Hibiscus Drive”—with a tangy/sweet tone.

Stories told: “Heater's On” is a tribute Kolivas penned to a cranky and complaining New York City apartment heater when he lived in the Big Apple in the early eighties. The tune features drummer Adam Baron's percussion mimicking the metallic clunks and grumbles of the noisy appliance. “Ole Buddy,” written by Kolivas for former Honolulu bassist Buddy Burke, has pianist Dan Del Negro plinkng, Basie-like, concise little notes representing Burke's habit of raising and lowering his eyebrows while he played; and “Mt. Fuji”—a full speed ahead tune—was inspired by the sight of the majestic Japanese peak from the window of a speeding train.

When you think of Honolulu, jazz probably doesn't come to mind. It didn't for me. Now it does. Sounds of the City is an inspired set by an inspiring group. In that sax and a rhythm section category, this is the finest I've heard this year.

Featured Artist: Honolulu Jazz Quartet
Review by Sheldon T. Nunn
May 12, 2004

CD Title: Sounds of The City

Year: 2004

Record Label: HJQ Records

Style: Contemporary Jazz

Musicians: John Kolivas (bass), Dan Del Negro (piano), Tim Tsukiyama (saxophone), Adam Baron (drums))

Review: One of the more stimulating aspects of jazz is the fact that the genre has crossed the boundaries of cultural lines unlike any other style of music. As America's most prolific export, jazz has touched every corner of the globe and has been heard in every nook and cranny that can be found in the United States. That is why it is not surprising to see an offering coming out of Hawaii of all places, especially since the location is synonymous with Don Ho, ukelele music, hula dancers, laid-back vacations and soft tropical breezes. With those impressions in my mind, this was one of the few times that the unexpected happened. I was completely taken aback by a group of guys with a lot of heart and one of the most impressive jazz recordings I have heard to date. Their latest release entitled 'Sounds of The City' on HJQ Records has to be the end result of doing everything correctly.

Known as the Honolulu Jazz Quartet, bassist John Kolivas formed the group in 2001. As such has been my experience to hear them, it must be said that these guys pack an awesome kick when getting down to the meat of what they do best. In the whole scheme of things, the opportunity to experience such a dynamic offering from a group such this is extremely satisfying. With a sound that ebbs and flows from one track to the other like the tropical breezes of Hawaii, listeners cannot help but get turned on by these four superb musicians. When getting down to the gist of what jazz is all about, it is a group of guys just having fun with one another. That is exactly what is happening with the Honolulu Jazz Quartet. The chemistry between these guys is quite compelling, inasmuch as they appear to be a finely-tuned jazz activated sound energy ray of excitement. John Kolivas, pianist Dan Del Negro, saxophonist Tim Tsukiyama and drummer Adam Baron have had the good fortune of playing collectively together for a considerable amount of time. It definitely shows in their approach to 'Sounds of The City.'

Although they may be relatively unknown in the broader sense of recognition, the Honolulu Jazz Quartet has made quite an impression since the release of their debut effort. In March 2004, 'Sounds of The City' came out kicking Number 44 on the JazzWeek Top 50 charts. At one point the group was tied with vocalist Norah Jones, considered by some to be one of the most phenomenal impressionist in music today. In my opinion, the comparison is minimal at best because these four guys are in a category that exceeds that of Norah's style of music. To find an independent group from Hawaii in the Top 50 is awesome, especially since it is their first release. With so much uninspired jazz hitting the charts and airwaves these days, it is quite refreshing to see this unique blend of artistic flavor carrying such an incredible array of pleasurable listening experiences. If you have 61 minutes and 12 seconds of time available for the Honolulu Jazz Quartet, the CD will definitely captivate your listening palate and have you intrigued enough to listen to these four guys again and again. I know that I will anxiously await their next release with a great deal of anticipation.

Tracks: Speed Trap, Ole Buddy, Remembrance, Hibiscus, Deanna, Keahi, Mt. Fuji, Heater's On, Cozumel Breeze, Woody's Blues

Artist's Website: http://www.honolulujazzquartet

Reviewed by: Sheldon T. Nunn


Copyright© 2004 JazzReview.com®. All Rights Reserved.

Honolulu Jazz Quartet

Sounds of the City

HJQ 2039

Tim Tsukiyama, saxophones; Dan Del Negro, piano; John Kolivas, bass; Adam Baron, drums

There is a solid, warm, earthy feel to this quartet; ten original compositions, eight by bass player John Kolivas and two by pianist Dan Del Negro. We start with a couple of pleasant opening tracks, "Speed Trap" and "Ole Buddy". Then "Remembrance", which is a warm bossa nova caressed by the throaty tenor saxophone of Tim Tsukiyama and the piano of Dan Del Negro. "Hibiscus Drive" has a delightfully light feel, and is based loosely on the Bach Partite. There is a strong feeling of cohesion within this group, they interlock and play off each other perfectly, and everything they play is tasteful, expressive and solid. It is quite clear to see why they are doing so well in Hawaii. "Mt. Fuji" is a nippy and upbeat number, and with "Heater's On" drummer Adam Baron is given a chance to stretch. The set finishes with a good swinging number, "Woody's Blues". The liner notes have it about right when they say; "The group's whole is greater than the sum of its parts". A good Jazz quartet.

by Ferdinand Maylin

New Sounds - September 2004

Jazz Now Interactive September 2004 Vol 14 No. 5 - Table of Contents

Comments: jazznow@sbcglobal.net

Review by D. Oscar Groomes

O's Place Jazz Newsletter, Maplewood, NJ
Honolulu Jazz Quartet   -   Sounds of the City  4/4
O's Notes: We were surprised by the excellent quality of this Hawaiian
quartet. We expected more of a tropical groove with bottlenecking
guitars... But this is a straight-ahead set of new music, no covers!
It is evidence of a vibrant jazz scene in Hawaii. The band is Tim
Tsukiyama (sax), Dan Del Negro (p), John Kolivas (b) and Adam Baron
(d). Kolivas is the composer of all but two of the ten songs. Del Negro
wrote "Keahi" and "Cozumel". They have performed as a unit for many
years and it shows. They are tight, balanced and share the stage,
deferring to the music as the star. The HJQ would win jazz hearts
anywhere. This is their debut recording and it's sure to expand their
P.O. Box 337
Maplewood, NJ 07040-0337

Review by Michael Steinman in Cadence Magazine, May 2004:
Speed Trap / Ole Buddy / Remembrance / Hibiscus Drive / Deanna / Keahi / Mt. Fuji / Heater's On / Cozumel Breeze / Woody's Blues. 61:12
Tim Tsukiyama, ts, ss; Dan Del Negro, p; John Kolivas, b; Adam Baron, d. Date not known, Honolulu, HI.
(4) is the debut recording for the HJQ, formed in 2001, a band firmly rooted in harmonically sophisticated but smooth post-Bop. Eight of the compositions were written by bassist John Kolivas, two by pianist Dan Del Negro, and they are an attractive mix of swingers, adventurous ("Speed Trap") or suggesting a modernized Basie small band ("Ole Buddy"); thoughtful ballads and bossa novas, as well as two Blues - "Heater's On," a minor excursion in 5/4, and "Woody's Blues," a friendly saunter dedicated to the late Woody Shaw, an early influence on Kolivas. The quartet can swing subtly, no one hogs the limelight, and the ambiance is relaxed throughout.

Review: Honolulu Jazz Quartet’s “Sounds of the City”

Keola Donaghy, www.nahenahe.net

Posted: 3/3/04





It is a crime that there are so few opportunities for Hawai'i jazz musicians to showcase their talents here, and this makes it difficult for any aspiring group of players to play together for an extended period of time, and to develop the bond and blend that jazz requires. The Honolulu Jazz Quartet has managed to accomplish just this, and released their debut CD in the fall of 2003. Bassist John Kolivas, pianist-composer Dan Del Negro, saxophonist Tim Tsukiyama and drummer Adam Baron all boast impressive resumes and performances with big name jazz and pop artists and on Broadway. I can't think of a better CD to pop in the car as you're driving through the city at night.

Their debut CD, "Sounds Of The City," has garnered high praise from critics, and the praise is well earned. It features two original compositions by Del Negro, and the remaining eight were penned by bassist Kolivas. The tunes and performances are true to the jazz tradition, sophisticated, but incredibly melodic, smooth and accessible, even for those who are not necessarily jazz aficionados.

Bottom Line: Hawai'i's rich jazz traditions is in capable hands, and we can only hope that HJQ continues to perform and record, despite the lack of opportunity to make a living performing in this under-appreciated genre.



Island Mele

John Berger

Friday, September 5, 2003




"Sounds of the City"

Honolulu Jazz Quartet
HJQ Records

There's no sweeter sound for many jazz purists than that of a tight acoustic combo. That's the sound that the Honolulu Jazz Quartet lays down on its long-awaited debut album, and, as local jazz fans know, these guys are great!

John Kolivas (acoustic bass) and Adam Baron (drums) give the HJQ a solid foundation while Dan Del Negro (piano) and Tim Tsukiyama (sax) do most of the melodic work. Kolivas is no slouch as a soloist, however, and the arrangements give all four men room to shine.

This will probably stand as the best local jazz album of the year on the strength of the music alone, but composers Kolivas and Del Negro enhance it with liner notes that reveal the stories behind the melodies and offer jazz neophytes insights into the arrangements as well.

Posted on: Sunday, August 31, 2003

No words necessary for these offerings

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

Instrumentals take the limelight this week. One CD marvelously captures the prevailing jazz quartet in town; another, a slack-key compilation by one of the most prolific creators of new music.

So it's possible to create pictures and evoke moods without words.

"SOUNDS OF THE CITY" by the Honolulu Jazz Quartet; HJQ Records.

Genre: Jazz.

Distinguishing notes: Bassist John Kolivas, who performs with Keola Beamer and the Honolulu Symphony, has an enriching life as a jazz musician. His Honolulu Jazz Quartet is one of Honolulu's most active and visible ensembles.

Seasoned and productive, he's traveled extensively and this perspective has influenced his vision as a combo member. With Dan Del Negro on piano, Adam Baron on drums and Tim Tsukiyama on saxophone, the HJQ clearly has crawled beneath the skin of jazz enthusiasts with its smart, fresh take on life's pleasurable moments.

Kolivas wrote eight of the 10 songs here; Del Negro contributed two. The flavor is old-school, the feeling is current, and titles read like a scrapbook of frisky memories, exemplified in "Ole Buddy," a tribute to Buddy Banks; "Remembrance," an homage of pivotal Island jazzmen Trummy Young, Ernie Washington and Paul Madison; "Woody's Blues," a nod to Woody Shaw; and "Mt. Fuji," a recollection of a bullet train ride when Kolivas saw the majestic Japanese peak.

The outlook: A Four instrumental "voices" blend with ease and assurance, creating a distinctive and colorful tapestry of emotions.

Our take: HJQ is Hawai'i's version of the MJQ — Modern Jazz Quartet — and the nucleus of all that's jazz in the Islands.