Roger Mas 5et: Mason (2007)
Ironically, Mas interrupts the amber glow of his Fender Rhodes tone with pronounced off-key vocalisms that draw far too much attention, and could serve as a caveat to sensitive ears. Thus, the conundrum continues and the music becomes more provocative due to this and other details. There is a serpentine quality to Mas' melodic and harmonic sensibilities that, in time, reveal subtle, secret sound worlds that are captivating and surreal. It's like experiencing a strange strain of lounge music where things are familiar, but off-kilter and askew in an unnameable, albeit undeniable fashion.
Although the song forms are fairly conventional, the group brings life to the structures through delicate tonal shadings in the unison sections. Juanma Nieto's drum work is outstanding as he propels the band forward, while simultaneously adding constantly-changing colors with deft cymbal work.
John Coltrane's "Moment's Notice" is the opening track, and is a pleasant rendition, but the reading ultimately offers nothing revelatory. Indeed, the weakest selections on the album are the three cover tunes. Antonio Carlos Jobim's "God & the Devil in the Land of the Sun" lacks the emotional complexity and pathos of the original, and again comes across simply as a pleasant foray into the land of the sun sans the dark undertones of the devil. The meat of this ensemble's work is in the original tunes.
All in all, the music stands up well to repeated listening, gradually revealing its secrets over time.
Track Listing: Moment's Notice; Dana; Ionic; Mason; God & the Devil in the Land of the Sun; In Love In Vain; Wizard; Millennium Park.
Personnel: Jon Robles: tenor and soprano saxophones; Jaume Llombart: guitar; Roger Mas: Fender Rhodes and piano; Bori Albero: bass; Juanma Nieto: drums; Enrique Oliver: tenor saxophone.
Record Label: Fresh Sound New Talent
Style: Modern Jazz