Project 33 is a lovely rhythm groove that serves to stage tasteful and compelling improvisation. From the start, this record is mixed so that Mino Cinelu understatedly influences the music rather than overtly declaring his unique presence. The conspicuous lack of aural stratification drives this music to a higher level of aesthetic value. The musicians’ excellent understanding of the needs of the notes shines above all.
“I wanted the album to sound like it had parts (other than the drums) that were programmed,” says Chris Tarry, “but were actually recorded live by real people improvising in the jazz sensibility.” This worked. The tracks are heard as they were laid down. It makes for some interesting sound transitions using radio and animal noises. One imagines the musicians having a blast doing some of this in studio.
“Satellite Scenario” stretches out to attract the listener into appropriately immersed solos from pianist Chris Gestrin and saxophonist Kelly Jefferson. One engages this music by mood and the desire to climb inside the groove.
The record gets funkier as we go, a result that can be easily enhanced with Cinelu providing a percussive world of good. “Anathematic” and “Requestin Gestrin,” both composed by Tarry, stage Jefferson’s expert understanding of the listener’s capacity to dig solos (that capacity being finite in many of us). Chris Gestrin combines some great electric piano work with church organ to incite the bobbing of heads and tapping of feet. Jesse Zubot’s accomplishment is reached in maintaining the simplicity of arranged rhythm. It would be very easy to overload the drum tracks, but Zubot artistically composes the rhythms to generate the heart of groove.
“In the Beginning” struts some musical heart for hardcore jazz listeners. Underneath an irregular time signature, Chris Gestrin is first on the journey through a series of unconventional, and thoughtful, solo forays. Chris Tarry turns bass into a highly heated statement of expressive prowess.
Gestrin brings ”Love Lost” back to the beauty of the lone piano for 90 seconds that feel like an afternoon in a prized place. “Far Away for Now” removes the players from all previous design and serves as a segue to the less rational, more abstract three minutes on this album. Had the group not previously grooved so well, this (combined) nine minutes would have fallen short of its desired effect. As it is, one dives deeply into musical immersion.
”Georgia Changes A Life” brings us back to the elements of harmonic grace, although it may be the first tune in this chronicle to suffer from one too many ideas. “Animal Kingdom" restores the rhythm groove in a spatial environment of bass and drum programming. “I See Stars” concludes the record and makes the point for Project 33: these musicians exist within and without groove – a deadly pleasing fusion of creativity.
With the fusion of acoustic and synthetic groove, Project 33 makes us hope that Chris Tarry reaches project 233.
Personnel: Chris Tarry: electric bass, drum programming (track 8), strings (1); Mino Cinelu: percussion, cymbals, loop (6); Chris Gestrin: piano, keyboards and radio; Kelly Jefferson: saxophone and exploratory animal sounds; Jesse Zubot: drum programming (tracks 1, 2, 3, 4 and 7).