On their February release Serenity, the Louis Romanos Quartet makes a feast of a few well-placed riffs. They go in and out of the second-line funk roots of the quartet's New Orleans-bred bandleader and percussionist.
Right from the start of “Just Pretend” to the end of “Witches Brew,” Romanos creates simmering spectacle on nine of his original instrumentals. He does all this with his trusty quartet — guitarist Dan Sumner, bassist Luca Lombardi, and trumpeter Alex Noppe.
“Just Pretend” abounds with captivating, hypnotic repeat stanzas on high alert and deep in-the-pocket intensity. Sumner keeps pressing the hot spot, Lombardi gurgles and pops, barely scratching the surface, and Noppe makes a broad statement for himself. Romanos keeps everyone on their toes, as if readying the band for the next curveball.
The repeat mantra in everything on this new album is more fuel to the fire as each musician in the quartet reveals a snippet of himself.
The ultra-romantic, occasionally brooding “Klozola” is seduction on a string, full of bossa-nova movement and slate on metal tension. The initial melodic salvo off Sumner’s guitar reverberates then reincarnates into this lascivious ballet dancer gently swaying from her classical origins to something far more fluid.
The play on tension is most evident in “Klozola,” as it is in “Old Soul,” which moves a lot slower without easing up on that push/pull effect.
Trumpeter Alex Noppe heightens the stakes on “Song for Charlie.” He carries the musical narrative in all its jumbled New Orleans sideways side street style. Romanos battons down the hatches on a net-less score, once again establishing that friction, stirring the pot.
The two of them get down in glory on a hot, funky mass appeal when “Funkle Lou” kicks up. Noppe is featured again on his scorching horn vibrato, in between searing classic tone. Lombardi has his way up and down his acoustic fret, letting the afterglow linger, and leaving a hologram, second-line effect in the back echo.
“Funkle Lou,” next to “Witches Brew,” is the most accessible, genre-free song on the recording, firing off a second-line meets the Funkadelics, clearly Romanos’ showcase.
His solo stretches for miles and miles, the perfect travel companion on a lazy summer drive from Vegas back home to the Bayou, where this quartet started, pre-Hurricane Katrina.Noppe punches up the drive with clever, sometimes silly, insertions on his trumpet, asking musical questions in broad strokes.
The Louis Romanos Quartet will tour the Southeast to promote its second album, Serenity.
“The CD sounds beautiful and we hope you will enjoy the music we created and documented over the last year and a half. It was quite a journey and the band has grown together musically. It will show in our music,” Romanos described on his website.