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When five entities come together, each with a different idea, the results can be unpredictable. If, by coincidence those ideas complement one another, you’ve got the recipe for Spaces In Time: the sophomore release by Bill Moring and Way Out East.
Bassist Moring, has spent his career largely in support of other artists; among them the big bands of Count Basie and Woody Herman, singers Joe Williams, Mel Torme and Diane Schuur. His associations include Clark Terry, Ray Baretto, Mulgrew Miller and Larry Coryell, among others, and he is on faculty at the Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshops. The other members making up the ensemble are trumpeter Jack Walrath, saxophonist Tim Armacost, pianist Steve Allee and drummer Steve Johns.
Spaces In Time is a collection of nine songs. The eight original tracks were known only to the composersthree each by Moring and Walrath, and one each by Armacost and Johnsuntil the night before the session. The outcome is a satisfying hour’s worth of jazz.
Everybody gets into the act on “Sweat,” a real workout of a song. Walrath leads at times, and Armacost contributes a nice tenor solo. Allee and Moring do their thing, but one of the key highlights is Johns’ drum solo.
Johns delivers more, working heavily on the toms and cymbals early in “Balls of Everything,” while Walrath puts his trumpet through some free-spirited, Freddie Hubbard-like playing and all the while, Moring’s bass sings its own tune, even in the background. Allee shows exceptional dexterity during his keyboard solo. The two horns then play in unison to set up the song’s ending.
The flowing “iHop” is a cool piece with a double entendre in it's title. Said aloud, it sounds like the acronym for the International House of Pancakes, and written it’s an obvious wink toward Apple's line of products (iMac, iPod, etc.). Musically, it’s both a delicious treat and an experience of communication. Moring begins with a low bass introduction before then joined by Allee and Johns. Walrath leads for a bit before giving way to Allee’s transitional solo, which sets up Armacost. Then both horns carry the melody as the piece slowly builds up intensity. Abruptly, Moring goes solo with drums and keyboard faintly in the background. As the solo progresses, the trumpet and sax pitch in just a little, before backing off for the keyboard. Walrath comes back in with a solo as the background cranks it up again. By the time Armacost returns, the band is in full swing, and the closing sequence sounds like a rhythmic, five-piece free for all.
It’s difficult to pick a high point of this album, with all the songs being well written and well executed. “Snakes!” is a little off the beaten path, but all tracks are good listening, including the cover of Ornette Coleman’s “The Disguise.”
Track Listing: Sweat; Balls of Everything; Deep Blue; Mary Lynn; Hop Blues; Snakes!; The Disguise; A Space In
Personnel: Bill Moring: bass; Jack Walrath: trumpet; Tim Armacost: saxophone; Steve Allee: keyboard;
Steve Johns: drums.