Billy Lester: Four into Four (2004)
The disc’s title is a clever allusion to the 4/4 time signature championed by Tristano and adhered to by the compact rhythm section of bassist Sean Smith and drummer Russ Meissner. While Smith keeps things pumping at a quick pace on these five extended cuts, Meissner is more of a random variable not averse to throwing his bandmates a percussive curve. Such is the case on “Person-L,” based on Gershwin’s “Somebody Loves Me,” as Meissner sets up the changes for creative Lester and Wettenhall solo exchanges. Both frontmen expertly explore their melodic lines but in doing so set up a tenuous tension that makes for interesting repartee that can occur at lightning speed. Lester melodically clips along on “Grasshopper’s Holiday,” hardly pausing as he unobtrusively slips in some antimelodic phrases, before he hands the reins over to Wettenhall, who trumpets his way through some decidedly boppish runs. The remaining cuts continue this precise interplay with Meissner playing all over his drums when given the spotlight. The setting provides fertile ground for Lester’s inventive stylings as he shows that Four can go into Four innumerable ways.
This review originally appeared in AllAboutJazz-New York .
Track Listing: 1. Person-L (9:55) 2. Grasshopper's Holiday (11:05) 3. G-Minor Jazz (8:02) 4. Oso Furioso (7:26) 5. Skip's Bounce (8:39)
Personnel: Sean Smith: Bass; Simon Wettenhall: Trumpet; Billy Lester: Piano; Russ Meissner: Drums.