For David Occipinti's fourth record, the Toronto guitarist has expanded for the first time to a quartet. The conventional guitar unit with saxophone, bass, and drums serves his polite but outgoing sound, providing a platform where he can stretch the boundaries of traditional head-solos-head composition without straying overly far from formal structure. For the record, all tracks were composed by the leader.
The two lead players (Occhipinti and saxophonist Mike Murley, who together recorded Duologue in 2002) rise further to the front of the mix than is usually the case, so they tend to grab attention from the rhythm section. That's fine, because bassist Andrew Downing and drummer Terry Clarke never really fall shy, but rarely rise to notable peaks.
Murley's voice on the saxophone tends to ride a little higher in tone than Occhipinti's electric guitar, which serves group interaction quite well. On the closer, for example, Occhipinti comps behind (and below) Murley during the theme, steps up into the alto range for a fairly adventurous solo, climaxes and then falls back to earth before yielding again to the saxophonist. His solo has a nice full-bodied structure and sound, the group fits snugly together, and they reach an intelligent conclusion.
The single solo piece, "Dodegcagon," features Occhipinti on acoustic guitar. Though through-composed, it feels like a spontaneous meditation, flowing onward but regularly getting trapped in small intervals. It's always revealingsometimes dangerously soto hear guitarists in a solo context, especially on the acoustic instrument. Occhipinti more than redeems himself on these restless but coherent three minutes. His other acoustic work (on the quartet "Stella") is solid but not quite as satisfying.
Most pieces on Intersection have a darker side, whether they are fast or slow, intense or relaxed. Occhipinti counterbalances his tendency in this direction with two zesty, celebratory pieces, appropriately enough titled "Elan Vital" and "Dolce Vita" (both of which recall John Scofield's straight-ahead work with Joe Lovano in style and tone, minus the kinky harmonies). But you can't help but be overwhelmed by the intersection with melancholy, and that's not a bad thing at all. There's nothing wrong with honesty. David Occhipinti has that quality in spades.
Visit David Occhipinti on the web.
Personnel: David Occhipinti: guitar; Mike Murley: saxophone; Andrew Downing: bass; Terry Clarke: drums.