John Stetch: Heavens of a Hundred Days
One doesn't need to study the text, however, to enjoy Heavens the music certainly can stand alone. The quartet performances range from the understated tension of the title track to the outgoing gusto of "Rondeau"; the improvised piano-saxophone duets tend toward a sparser, more interactive call-and-response feel. In the absence of McHenry's gently persuasive saxophone voice, the trio whispers, swings, or pounds away, depending on the context. Stetch is the unabashed leader, coaxing these changes out of the group. His stylistic range is broad, though he spends the most time in the Jarrett/Mehldau zone of quietly projected tension and release. He receives ample but unobtrusive support from bassist Ben Street and drummer Jeff Ballard. Ballard's playing, in particular, provides for surprising rhythmic continuity between open spaces, gently swinging melodies, and onward rushing gallops. Variety is the only item on Stetch's menu on Heavens of a Hundred Days one has the feeling that, given another fifty tracks, there'd still never be two alike.
Track Listing: Heavens of a Hundred Days; Urakawa; Rondeau; Duet #1; Love For Sale; Autumn in New York; Point; Duet #2; McWorld; Heavens of a Hundred Days (solo).
Personnel: John Stetch: piano; Bill McHenry: tenor saxophone; Ben Street: bass; Jeff Ballard: drums.
Record Label: Justin Time Records