Eric Person & Meta-Four: Extra Pressure
What are the exact parameters of post bop? For a term that’s trundled about as frequently as this one there’s a decided lack of consensus as to its meaning. The phrase itself isn’t much help. ‘After bop’ covers basically everything that followed and arose out of bebop’s beginnings over a half-century ago. Further narrowing reveals that post bop music has connections to bebop but in some way has moved beyond the original boundaries of the music. By this broad definition the music of Eric Person and Meta-Four fit firmly into the framework of post bop. But rather than dwell on the demarcations of what he’s doing, Person dispenses with definitions and turns his attentions to simply making music of lasting quality.
I first encountered Person’s playing on Dave Holland’s “Dream of the Elders” (ECM) and was impressed by his ability to remain lyrical even in the midst of heated improvisation. It’s a talent that served him soundly as a sideman and carries over equally well into his work as a leader. This disc marks his fourth solo disc after a trio of recordings for Soul Note and the first on his own Distinction Records. The quartet featured is Person’s new working unit and is comprised of three other players whose interests are evenly aligned with his own. Moving across a program consisting completely of originals the four players engage in tight interplay that negates their relatively short time together as a group. Person divides his energies between alto and soprano and often shapes beautifully engineered solos that favor the higher registers of his horn. Esposito’s tactful keys serve as swinging support in conjunction with the loose rhythmic accompaniment of Henderson and Strickland. The pianist sounds particularly energized on his own “Personal Blues” which also features strong solos from Person and Henderson. Strickland’s funk-infused traps fuel Person’s “There Will Be Better Days” with a taut syncopation and Person’s silver-toned soprano also locks into the foot-tapping, hopeful groove.
On “Song of September” the band shifts smoothly into ballad mode. Person caresses the melody on alto with a soothing gentleness of spirit that still carries an underlying edge. “This Devotion” alights on a supple bass solo by Henderson before moving into an extended passage highlighting Person’s sprightly soprano and a later interlude by Esposito. “Special Someone” is similarly light hearted thanks to the amicable blend of soprano and piano. The closing title track leaves things off in an open-ended state contributing to the feeling that these are players who have much more to say and will be using future forums to continue their discourse. The piece also contributes to the anticipation that will no doubt presage Person’s next release. With “Extra Pressure” Person and his partners have created another addition to his growing discography worthy of praise and investigation. Anyone with an interest in that dubiously titled style of jazz known as post-bop would be well served by seeking this disc out for perusal.
Track Listing: The Pull/ Fallout/ Personal Blues/ There Will Be Better Days/ Song of September/ This Devotion/ Perfection/ Plummett/ Special Someone/ Constellation-Pictures of Orion/ Extra Pressure.
Recorded: August 19 & 20, 1999, Hillside Sound Studio, Englewood, NJ
Eric Person & his music can be found on the web at http://www.ericperson.com
Personnel: Eric Person- alto & soprano saxophones; John Esposito- piano; Carlos Henderson- bass; E.J. Strickland- drums.
Record Label: Distinction