Guitarist Rick Peckham has played as a sideman on several albums, bringing his personal signature to the music. On this, his debut as leader, he elevates that presence, aided by two fine musicians in Jim Black and Tony Scherr.
Peckham is fine tuned into jazz, as evidenced by his cover of the Thelonious Monk tune "Evidence," as well as the group's "Free 1" and the fleeting "Free 2." And though the harmonies may not be those of jazz on the other tunes, he improvises within the body with technique and skill, often channelling it anew along the way. "Real Time" acknowledges this particularly well. It opens on a waft of notes from Peckham that drift in as Black churns with the brushes, quiet but not aloof. The mood is built on slowly before it erupts into effervescence, Peckham slicing emphatically, riding on a bluesy vein and rocking out.
The rock side is resplendent. "Gibbons" roars and soars on the sizzle of Peckham's notes, which bend and reverberate as they light a hot, streaming path. Black locks in, driving the beat with Scherr. It's time to raise the fist and pump it in the air when all of a sudden the song softens and dips. The structure does not crumble, instead it derives a new, becoming dimension that, as the trio would have it, gets into overdrive once more and comes to a throbbing climax.
Monk is ably served on "Evidence." Peckham pays attention to detail and goes into the soul of the composition. He brings in a certain freshness as he delineates the structure that becomes all the more material, as Black and Scherr add to the fount with solos that consolidate invention.