Pete Zimmer, a native of Waukesha, Wisconson, studied jazz drumming and orchestra percussion at North Ilinois University. While a student at NIU, he was able to learn under the aegis of Chicago drummer Jeff Stitely. In 1998, Zimmer moved to Boston to complete his education at the New England Conservatory, studying under the tutelage of Panamanian pianist Danilo Perez for two years. Zimmer then filled the drum chair for cutting-edge saxophonist George Garzone's group for several years.
Zimmer's second release is a live quintet recording from New York's Jazz Standard. While the tunes resemble the material on his debut, Common Man, Zimmer notes that this live recording captures the excitement of performing in a jazz club, with plenty of room for every member of the group to stretch out.
The feel of the group and the music comes right out of the hard bop setting of the late 1950s and '60s, reflecting distinct influences from Horace Silver's quintet and Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. Six of the eight tunes (all originals) are from Zimmer's pen; the other two were written by pianist Toru Dodo and Joel Frahm, a recognized tenor saxophonist whose three albums on Palmetto and many sideman appearances have earned him a lot of attention. The two-horn front line (Frahm and trumpeter Michael Rodriguez) only serves to further invite a comparison with the previously mentioned Silver and Blakey groups.
With the exception of Zimmer's ballad "Waltz For OPP," the compositions are all serviceable bebop tunes which serve as fine vehicles for solo opportunities. Frahm knows how to construct an intelligent and tasty tenor solo, as does Rodriguez. Dodo keeps the excitement going with both comping and fleet-fingered solos, while leader keeps the percussion going without drawing attention to himself in the process. The album opens with the eleven-minute "Woodside Blues," which gives each of the musicians a chance to have his say, and concludes with Frahm's attractive "A Whole New You."
Burnin' offers a one-hour snapshop of a contemporary hard bop group, playing within the structures of that subgenre in a style that reflects the best years of the movement in the '50s and '60s. But, encouragingly, this is a young groupall of the musicians were born after 1970.
Personnel: Pete Zimmer: drums; Michael Rodriguez: trumpet, flugelhorn; Joel Frahm: tenor sax; Toru
Dodo: piano; David Wong: bass.