Mark Griffith: Drumatic
Bluejay Records is an inspirational company that was founded by Cecil Brooks III and Nat Simpkins several years ago and is based out of Manchester, MA. Its existence shows that plenty of initiative still exists in the jazz world, and that artists today are striving to maintain the integrity that comes from doing something independently. Their recording artists have netted high-profile musicians Steve Turre, Don Braden, Bryan Carrott, and Steve Wilson as sidemen and have generally shown to be solid leaders in their own right.
Drumatic claims to be groundbreaking in that all of its compositions were penned by drummers, but this seems more of a cop-out than a point of praise. Mark Griffith, who contributes only one tune of his own, is breaking absolutely no new ground here, as most of the tracks fall far short of their originals. Understandably, drummers are often lesser writers as well, since they rarely deal with melody or harmony and often lack much more than a superficial knowledge of the two. Another of Drumatic 's problems is its need of a clear leader. Griffith immediately fades to the background after the first few notes of Denzil Best's "Move," not to resurface until the closing title track, which is a percussive duet between Griffith and Robert Brosh. Despite this, the recording is nothing to be ashamed of. All six musicians cover the tunes ably, and rising star David Gilmore is able to inject several of the pieces with some much-needed energy. Perenially overlooked vibraphonist Bryan Carrott offers more testimony that he is rightfully one of the most in-demand vibists on the scene (his presence graces Dave Douglas's recent release Witness ), and Steve Wilson blows competently throughout. This being only Bluejay's seventh release, the label's future is encouraging and its stock should rise once its musicians are willing to take more risks and employ some true creativity.
Track Listing: 1. Move; 2. Juicy Fruit; 3. Pee Wee; 4. Circle Dance; 5. Song of Serenity; 6. Big Girls; 7. Where Or Wayne; 8. Patterns; 9. Stompin' at the Savoy; 10. Drumatic.
Personnel: STEVE WILSON, soprano & alto saxophones; JAMES STEWART, tenor saxophone; BRYAN CARROT, vibraphone; DAVID GILMORE, guitar; KENNY DAVIS, bass; MARK GRIFFITH, drums; ROBERT BROSH, percussion (on "Drumatic" only).