The Jack Schantz Quartet


Jack Schantz, trumpet & flugelhorn

Chip Stephens, piano

Jeff Halsey, bass
Val Kent, drums
Howie Smith, alto saxophone

Track Listing

1. My Romance (Rodgers and Hart)

2. Speechless (Jack Schantz)

3. America the Beautiful (Samuel A. Ward & Katherine L. Bates)

4. Lennie’s Pennies (Lennie Tristano)

5. It Never Entered My Mind (Rodgers & Hart)

6. Hot House (Tadd Dameron)

7. Amazing Grace (John Newton)

8. Without A Song (Vincent Youmans)

9. Moose the Mooch (Charlie Parker)

Total playing time [62:02]

July 1993

Hot new disc from a hometown Northern Ohio quartet.

by Harvey Pekar

Lots of good CDs to hip you to these days. Let’s start with the locally produced Speechless (Azica) by the Jack Schantz Quartet, enlarged to a quintet on “Lennies Pennies” and “Hothouse” by altoist Howie Smith. Canton’s trumpeter-flugelhornist Schantz, a veteran of several big bands, most notably Woody Herman’s, is backed by one of the best rhythm sections this area could produce: Chip Stephens on piano, Jeff Halsey on Bass and Val Kent on Drums.
Lyricism is Schantz’s outstanding quality. Some of the pieces he plays here are not the usual fare, “America the Beautiful” and “Amazing Grace,” but his work on them comes off quite well. Stylistically he’s a thoughtful postbopper whose inspirations include Conte Candoli, Kenny Dorham and Donald Byrd. He plays long, rich lines, mostly in the middle register, employs a soft, attractively cloudy tone and swings infectiously.

Pianist Chip Stephens, a big leaguer (like everyone in this group), has intelligently synthesized the approaches of several pianists creating his own style. He varies his chords in different ways, employing meaty single-note lines and even octave unison playing. He paces his solos lucidly.

Bowling Green’s Halsey also has formidable chops; he articulates precisely, which allows him to play interesting counterlines in the rhythm section, and pluck powerfully swinging, hornlike solos. The widely admired Kent plays propulsively but sensitively, inspiring the soloists without being intrusive.

Among the best, most unique musicians in the area, Smith turns in hard swinging, ideafilled solos on his two tracks, fitting into the date by employing a post-bop style. There’s more to his work than this, however; He’s one of Cleveland’s few experimental jazzmen, and I’ll be writing more about that aspect of his work in a later column.