David Berkman Quartet: Start Here - Finish There (2004)
The opening two pieces, "Cells" and "Triceratops," are jazz ensemble exercises going in opposite directions. The former "Cells" is balladic in tempo and rhythm with a complex head (if that is what the opening can be called) that sublimes into the solo sections, which are barely tied to the delicate rhythm section. On the other hand, "Triceratops" is a blues that is not a blues. Had hard bop developed over the last year instead of during the 1950s, "Triceratops" is what it would sound like. The piece opens with a complex up-tempo head that leads into muscular solo presentations. Berkman's solo is peppered with hard bop blues conventions, as if his right hand were ruled by Horace Silver and his left had by Red Garland. While not performed in the traditional twelve-bar form, the solo playing leaves no doubt that this is all about the blues.
Berkman states that his composition "Iraq" was one of his few compositions trying to express the tangible, a political viewpoint. It has a decidedly Eastern flavor with Dick Oatts' freely played soprano saxophone. The rhythm section is very much a part of the picture with drummer Nasheet Wait's drumming providing the velocity to the harmonically complex "Penultimatum." Ugonna Okegwo?s bass provides the rhythmic adhesive of the group, while also providing informed and sensitive solos. Like Dave Douglas, David Berkman very well may represent where jazz is going, a direction of intelligent freedom lightly tethered to the immediate past.
Track Listing: Cells; Triceratops; Iraq; Stone's Throw; English As A Second Language; Penultimatum; Only Human; Old Forks; Quilt; Mean Things Happening In This World.
Personnel: David Berkman, Piano; Dick Oatts, Saxophones; Ugonna Okegwo, Bass; Nasheet Waits, Drums.
Record Label: Palmetto Records