Shelf life

Lyles West's new record with his band Quartet Out isn't really new at all. The disc, Welcome to the Party, was recorded more than two years ago, but it sat on the shelf until, well, now, while West and the band tried to find a label to distribute it. Dave Liebman -- a tenor saxophonist who has played with Miles Davis and Chick Corea, as well as leading his own bands -- recommended the group to New York-based Soul Note Records, home to albums by Cassandra Wilson, Henry Threadgill, Don Cherry, and Dewey Redman, among others. Quartet Out spent the better part of those two years waiting for Soul Note to make a move, but the label was too busy trying to stay afloat. West finally decided to release the album himself, and the band (which also includes West on bass, saxophonists Pete Gallio and Jim Sangrey, and drummer Dennis Durick) will celebrate that fact on September 7 at a CD release party at the XPO Lounge.

But the real party happens on the 10 tracks on Welcome to the Party. The album lives up to its title, the rare disc that deflates some of the seriousness of modern-day jazz. Songs such as "James Brown" and "Maxim's" swing harder than Sammy Sosa, all hard-bop drums, sexy sax, and West's ticklish bass. As the liner notes say, "Lately it seems that the party spirit that once made jazz a vital, life-affirming, shared experience has been suppressed in favor of a dour, self-important neuroticism that manifests itself by either ignoring the past or denying the present...We want to party, to play, to be real! So we do."

The XPO Lounge performance will be the last time one of the group's saxophonists will party, play, or be real with Quartet Out. West won't give up which one is planning to move to New York, because, he says, whoever it is will be less likely to pick up gigs if other musicians know he's leaving. As for West's other band, Café Noir, he says the group is still together, but "as usual with Café Noir, things are up in the air." Among the things in the air at the moment are a European tour and a potential label deal for the group in Germany, both of which the band's agent is in the process of nailing down. Who knows, maybe they'll find a better audience there. It has to beat the one they have -- or don't -- here.