How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Free Time, a (mostly) quartet set from emerging saxophonist Nick Bisesi, offers a fresh helping of modern jazz spanning the range from edgy funk to all-out free. Bisesi's talents as a player are remarkable: he takes advantage of his firm, lean tone to construct solos with vision and clarity. The saxophonist got started in New York City with lessons from Dave Liebman (who guests here on a couple of tracks, adding an extra edge without stealing the show). While Bisesi retains barely discernable evidence of his mentor's fluid improvisational style, he has personalized his sound to achieve a more spare and angular approach.
All but two of the compositions on this disc are penned by Bisesi, and they highlight his diverse musical interests. An overt nod to Ornette Coleman on "Peace" makes it clear where Bisesi stands with respect to free improvisation. Unfortunately, the record is somewhat spoiled by the derivative playing of guitarist Pete McCann. It's a real shame, because otherwise Free Time has incredible potential. The guitarist taps directly into the individual tones and styles carved out by Bill Frisell and Pat Methenyto name two obvious examplesand it seriously detracts from the disc's originality. He copies Frisell's reverberant tone and spare Americana style on "Amused"; the 80/81 -era folk idiom of Pat Metheny on "Knee High"; and the electric swoops of Question and Answer -era Metheny on "Beatrice." One wonders where he's hidden his own sound! It's an unfortunate draw for a record which might otherwise have major-league potential. Despite Bisesi's demonstrated talent for improvisation and composition, he appears to have fallen short when selecting his bandmates. Future outings from Nick Bisesiin other contexts where his skills are utilized to better advantageought to be worth checking out.
Track Listing: Katja's Groove; Knee High by the Fourth of July; Amused; Avenue A Lullaby; Beatrice; Free Time; Peace; Trilogy for Alto Saxophone.
Personnel: Nick Bisesi: alto saxophone, flute; Dave Liebman: soprano and tenor saxophones; Pete McCann; Sean Conly: bass; Owen Howard: drums.