Frank Irwin Quintet
Known for evocative melodies, smooth harmonies, and deep grooves, the Frank Irwin Quintet draws experience from the sounds of the Pacific Northwest, bringing a unique flavor to the Portland jazz scene. Founded in 2018 by bassist, producer, and composer Chris Frank, his Quintet strives to bring positivity and levity into the lives of its audience members, armed with a dark sense of humor and uplifting sound.
Inspired by his work as a middle school teacher, Frank lets the humanity of music shine through his compositions and arrangements, embracing a songbook that takes listeners through an eclectic array of genres, from hip-hop to show tunes, all told through the infinite idiom of Black American Music.
Having performed for over a decade in the Portland scene, Frank has anchored groups like Inky Shadows and The Pariahs, and has performed with Fritzwa, Joe Kye, Farnell Newton, and Argentine Tango group Astillero. He’s performed in venues such as Mississippi Studios, Doug Fir Lounge, The Hawthorne Theater, Alberta Abbey, and McMinneman’s Al’s Den.
Frank Irwin Quintet’s debut album, “Better/Broken,” features nine original compositions with contributions by Portland mainstays like drummer Barra Brown (Korgy & Bass), saxophonist Ian Christensen, guitarist Corey Heppner, and trombonist James Powers (March Fourth). The quintet has also released Broken/Beats, an album of remixes by local beat makers and emcees, as well the Teleportation EP. Frank is currently editing and mixing FIQ's second full length album, for release in the spring of 2021 and collaborating with local dancers and choreographers on a long form dance piece based on The Telling, a novel by Ursula K Le Guin.
"Better/Broken" Album Review
Bird Is The Worm (Blog)
This album is at its best when melodies are exhaled slowly and allowed to drift like a plume of smoke. When the Frank Irwin Quintet roll out a tune in this fashion, the music emotes an appealing moodiness. And it’s the kind of thing that sticks. Even if the electricity on the piece gets upped a notch or three, there remains a contemplative presence that behaves as the context for any volatility that follows.
The contributions of trombonist James Powers go a long way to cementing this impression, especially during those times when his instrument acts as the bonding harmonic element between tenor sax and guitar. Those moments when the trio coalesce into a unified sound are some of the best moments Better/Broken has to offer.