The front cover of this disc does not give individuals much an idea what Quartet of Happiness will play. Individuals may get an idea if they look at the back, as there is a crude cartoon with two members playing brass, an upright bass, and a drummer. However, even that will not give individuals the best idea of what Quartet of Happiness ultimately sounds like. After putting the disc on, “Let The Monster In” will be the first clue about what Quartet of Happiness sounds like.
I would categorize them as acid jazz, as there is spontaneity to each constituent part of the band that does not seem to correspond to earlier styles of jazz. There is not anything in the way of vocals during the disc’s opening track, but Quartet of Happiness’ ability and arrangements on this song are more than enough to keep individuals that have been inculcated with this norm happy. Even if a track like “Let the Monster In” is under four minutes, the density of the composition is such that it feels like the band has went on for seven or eight minutes.
This increases the replay value of this EP considerably, and will make it absolutely necessary to listen to the disc over and over to hear exactly what every one of the Quartet’s four members is attempting to do during the track. “The Radio” brings vocals to the track, and really makes Quartet of Happiness an act that even the most lay fan of jazz can appreciate. The interesting vocals (not the mini-skits of the title object) bring the Quartet into Gnarkill-like territory, which is interesting to say the least. However, the theoretical approach of “The Radio” is the most interesting part of the song, as the different styles of music played by the band corresponds to someone changing the radio to different formats. The Quartet of Happiness may not be known in jazz circles quite yet, but the ability shown during all eight of these tracks should raise a few eyebrows. “143 Hillside Fire Suite” starts off with a slower style, blending together Irish and Mexican traditional music to create something uniquely American; hints of patriotic songs can also be heard during this track. With such an eclectic sound, it is not shocking that the band is trying to get this music out there; anyone that listens in will undoubtedly find something that they will like on this EP.
Top Track: The Radio
Quartet of Happiness – S/T / 2006 Self / 8 Tracks / http://www.quartetofhappiness.com / Reviewed 28 April 2007