Here’s a band that looks to the future while keeping its feet rooted in the present. Modern mainstream jazz should always prove exciting, introduce fresh ideas, and never lose sight of the tradition. Once Through does all that with superb musicianship from each of its four artists.
Tenor saxophonist Dan Moretti leads the session. Bassist Marty Ballou and guitarist Bruce Bartlett join him with interwoven harmonic lines at various points. Ballou stretches out frequently with lyrical solo spots. While it’s true that Bartlett lays out for several numbers, he does supply an integral piece of the formula. Drummer Marty Richards, as well, does his part to ensure that the session contains variety.
What distinguishes the band’s approach above all is the restraint shown by each member. It’s a technique that too few modern musicians remember to use. Once Through minimalizes this performance in such a way that one performer’s music never blocks out that of another. It’s similar to the way a visual artist adds wet paint of a different color to a fresh work, purposely keeping his contrasting colors distinct. Rushing to action or letting emotions overcome would only force the outcome to turn blurred and gray. The same result can come from trying to do too much with one piece. Once Through maintains four distinct voices throughout the session with enough space between to make it all remain clear. “Tenderly” sounds as it did decades ago, but with added textures. “Bostic” serves the jump blues generation, while “Ain’t No Sunshine” strolls with a rustic feel. Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Milt Jackson, Hank Mobley, and others are paid due respect. Once Through recorded this debut, eponymous album with a fresh, natural outlook. The result is recommended and stands as a centerpiece for the modern mainstream.