4–Sight, a quartet of (relatively) young lions who’ve made some modest waves in other groups, nimbly straddles a number of fences — mainstream and contemporary, funk and traditional, acoustic and electric — on its debut recording for N2K. While some may argue that the group has tailored its program to appeal to the commercial radio market, I don’t think that is the case; the music is far too cerebral to serve as such aural wallpaper. In other words, I think that 4–Sight believes in what it is doing. Whether one agrees with that point of view is another matter. Although I couldn’t pick 4–Sight out of a lineup if my life depended on it, I found much of its music worthwhile if not exceedingly inventive. Certainly these are four capable if at times overly enthusiastic musicians (the rhythm section sometimes tends to become too busy, as on the opening track, “Parabola,” and elsewhere). All selections were composed by members of the group with pianist Martin writing (and in two instances co–writing) five, bassist Whitaker contributing four and tenor/soprano Blake two. Again, they are efficient but unremarkable. At least two (Martin’s “In the Flow,” Martin/Hutchinson’s “En Jai Jai”) employ the sort of elemental rock–style rhythms I’ve never been able to warm to. There are five ballads (including three in a row), the most engaging of which is Blake’s “Beyond Yesterday’s Tomorrows.” My favorite tracks are the ones that scamper — Blake’s ”Re: Evaluation” (on which he plays tenor) and Whitaker’s “Love Endures” (with Blake’s soprano sounding at times like Branford Marsalis before the tune simply fades away). An ambitious venture, one that succeeds more often than it fails.
Track listing: Parabola; First Love, Only Love; Sweet; In the Flow; Re: Evalutation; Visions of the Past; Beyond Yesterday’s Tomorrows; Mastery Through Love; Love Endures; Marti; En Jai Jai (63:00).
Ron Blake, tenor, soprano saxophones; Peter Martin, piano, rhodes and clarinet; Rodney Whitaker, bass; Greg Hutchinson, drums.