Least we forget, jazz was once popular music. Not something that required a degree in music theory to appreciate, nor merely a ‘quiet storm’ of background soundtrack for your office cubicle. It seems the young cats today, the likes of Ben Allison, Matt Wilson, and Charlie Hunter, desire to come down from the lofty perch jazz inhabits. Count the slightly lesser known (but most deserving) Andy Parsons among this new breed.
A semifinalist in the 2002 Thelonious Monk Competition, Parsons studied under Jerry Bergonzi, Bob Mintzer, and Bobby Watson. He has recorded several discs in collaboration with drummer Gene Lewin under the name Fundementia.
Their reunion here includes the heavyweight bassists John Patitucci (Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter), and Ben Monder (Paul Motian, Tim Ries, Patrick Zimmerli). Parsons composed all the music here except for the standard “East Of The Sun.” Flip is reminiscent of the late 1980s recordings of John Scofield & Joe Lovano for Blue Note Records, in that the quartet keeps both feet in jazz terra firma but aspire to make fans of non-jazz music (read: rock) take notice.
In fact Parsons has that Lovano tenor sound from twenty years ago. Maybe it’s the presence of Monder, but his saxophone work flows with a grooving ease. The title track sounds almost like an organ trio, warming you to this outing. The band delivers a continuous saxophone wrapped by guitar throughout with Monder stepping out several times for casual, yet calculated solos. On “Lot Of Our Souls” His ‘anger’ rises and is bathed by Parson and drummer Gene Lewin’s furious activity. Lewin is as comfortable working with the pop band GrooveLily as playing jazz. His gift lies in his frenzied dynamo attack of cymbals and skins. Think Tony Williams sits in with Weather Report.
A spin of this disc is quite a delight. Oh yeah, that is (was) what jazz is supposed to be all about...
Personnel: Andy Parsons - Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone; Ben Monder - Guitar; John Patitucci - Bass;
Gene Lewin - Drums.