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All Around is an excellent first effort from the supremely talented young drummer Ted Poor. A 2003 graduate of the Eastman School of Music, Poor has recorded and performed with Chris Potter, Joe Locke, Bill Frisell, and Cuong Vu, among others. You can also check out his work on the newly recorded North, led by another fine young player, Jerome Sabbagh. Although in his early twenties, Poor exhibits skills that are surprisingly mature for a relative newcomer.
Rounding out this quartet are two more emerging players, saxophonist Matt Blanchard and bassist Ike Sturm, with busy guitarist Ben Monder as the lone veteran. Poor has been a member of Monder's recent working quartet. This recording is filled with creative compositions and a highly adventurous spirit. Three of the tunes are Poor's, one is Monder's, one is a creative effort, and three standards complete the program.
Blanchard's solo on the anthem-like "It Doesn't Hurt" shows his unique voice, with just a hint of Jan Garbarek's tone. The structure of this tune makes for a genuinely satisfying experience. One of the more intriguing readings of "Giant Steps" you are likely to find features an extended improvisation by Poor, the changes simply a backdrop outlined by Monder and Sturm. A stimulating rendition of Weill's "This is New" gets a swinging treatment in 7/4. Monder, Sturm, and Poor all find solo spaces.
Poor tunes his bass drum a tad deeper than traditional jazz drummers, preferring a crisp snare as well. His playing focuses on these two voices with judicious use of cymbals and toms added for good measure. It all adds up to a very personal contemporary sound.
This record has much to commend it, but what stands out is how it seems to get better with each spin. Interplay is outstanding, with plenty of room for each member to express his thoughts. But make no mistake, Poor is the driving force right through. This is one record led by a drummer who is not afraid to drive the bus. Monder's fluid lines are another reason to seek this one out.
Track Listing: Ike's Out of the Band; It Doesn't Hurt; Sundae #3; Giant Steps; Wade; This is New; Kwackerr; Embraceable You (49:04)
Personnel: Ted Poor-Drums; Ben Monder-Guitar; Matt Blanchard-Tenor Saxaphone; Ike Sturm- Bass; Eric Biondo-Trumpet (track 5)