Amalgamation: Therefore (2009)
Based in Cleveland, Mississippi, this saxophone/guitar/bass/drums quartet is heavily influenced by the blues, but with a sound that's more a mix of rock, pop, jazz and fusion, its members count Chris Potter and Joshua Redman as some of its reference points.
Some rapid stick work from drummer Coday Anthony opens the title song. Bassist Chris Hartfield, guitarist Matthew Wood and saxophonist Ryan Betz then join in dramatic fashion, with Betz out front. The music ebbs and flows, from heightened passions to soft moments of reflection. During the middle passage, Betz takes the alto to some of its lowest depths while subtly backed by Wood, Hartfield, Anthony and recording engineer Jimmie Lee Jr.who guests on keyboards here and on "Blown Fuse" the mood slowly building up as the band returns to the main theme.
"Blown Fuse" is aptly named. Despite the controlled noise, it's a solid, rock-jazz jam. Betz injects a bit of Maceo Parker, along with hints of Redman and David Sanborn. The bass is alive and the drums are kicking, with the timing impeccable during several phrases that, ending in stop-time fashion, find all four musicians playing in unison.
"Do You Know" begins as a haunting ballad, punctuated by Anthony's rim shots. The intensity picks up with Betz out front and Wood employing some wah-wah effects in the background. Wood leads the tranquil "Beyond the Rainbow," with Betz switching to piano. During one dramatic sequence, Wood fuses several styles, giving a taste of Andy Summers, Carlos Santana and Larry Carlton.
Amalgamation can be considered instrumental rock, edgy pop, jazz or fusion . Each label fits, but none is exclusively definitive as this quartet brings a degree of freshness to its adept balance of melody and improvisation.
Track Listing: Therefore; Blown Fuse; Do You Know; Beyond the Rainbow.
Personnel: Ryan Betz: saxophone, piano; Matthew Wood: guitar; Chris Hartfield: bass; Coday Anthony: drums; Jimmie Lee Jr.: keyboards (1, 2).
Record Label: Self Produced
Style: Fusion/Progressive Rock