Parsons/Lewin/Patitucci/Monder: Flip! (2003)
All of the tunes on Flip! are Parsons originals, with a lone exception. Throw into anchor things, nicely a somewhat edgy version of the classic "East of the Sun (and West of the Moon)" and a brooding tango, "Santigo," and you've got a bunch of straight-ahead jazz tunes, approachable and melodic, with a lot of room for for improvisation.
The "groove" label can sometimes signify a relative easy listen; and Flip! on one level is; but it also captivates, charms you into multiple listenings that reveal deeper textures and a huge level of musicianship all around. Parsons has a sharp knife edge sax attack, clean and cutting, vibratoless; and Ben Monder is a guitar marvel, filling in the need for orchestral cushioning, rhythm anchor, or lead voice, whatever the song needs. And his simmering rock-tinged solo on & quot;Lot of Our Souls" is particulary fiery and facinating.
A very solid outing, and it's difficult to pinpoint a single facet that makes this set shine, what polishes from the glow of recommended to the sparkle of: "you-gotta-hear-this-one." Is it the groove, the compelling compositions, the guitar/sax interplay? Perhaps; but those multiple listens that Flip! charmed this listener into says Gene Lewin's stick work is a major factor, not so much his time-keeping chores, but the busy yet subtle ongoing flourishes. He's not out there drawing attention; he's accentuating the sound of every lick that gets played, something of a combination of Jack DeJohnette and Al Foster.
A fine, groove-oriented quartet outing, crisp and captivating.
Track Listing: Flip, Alone in the Loveseat, Tookish, Lot of Our Souls, Miss Concpetion, Year Out, East of the Sun (and West of the Moon), Which Thousand Words, Load Cycle, Sintigo
Personnel: Andy Parsons, saxes; Gene Lewin, drums; John Patitucci, bass; Ben Monder, guitar
Record Label: Sons of Sound