You can always count on drummer, bandleader Mike Reed to jar your neural network on a per-album basis. Indeed, he's a propulsive force; an acute progressive jazz visionary, and a luminary in Chicago's forward-moving improvisational dynamic, while also hosting and promoting jazz/improvisation festivals in the Windy City. Otherwise, his People Places & Things unit strikes again on a A New Kind of Dance, featuring guest artists, pianist Matthew Shipp and trumpeter Marquis Hill lending their respective goods on several tracks.
As a drummer, Reed is a catalyst. And the band's upbeat demeanor rises to the occasion amid zesty soloing spots and absorbing dialogues. Yet the musicians are afforded a lot of maneuverability with these largely vivacious works, rendered with sizzling unison lines, hearty ventures into the free zone and high- flying bop metrics. But Reed's multidimensional compositional insights integrate considerably more than high-impact soloing escapades. For example, "Markovsko Horo" commences with Hill's probing notes lightly shaded with North African overtones, as saxophonists, Greg Ward and Tim Haldeman chime in with clustering phrases and zinging breakouts. However, "Kwela for Taylor," poses another side of the drummer's musicality via an old-school shimmy type dance groove, topped off with an affable hook.
The Ellington-Strayhorn piece "Star Crossed Lovers" is a concisely enacted deconstruction effort. And "Fear Not of Man" is a piece by hip hop artist Dante Smith (Mos Def). Here, the ensemble funks it up atop Jason Roebke's mammoth bass lines, where the saxophonists bob, weave and soar, counteracted by Shipp's gushing chord voicings and jabbing rhythmic accents. Thus, everyone steps up to the plate and pushes the envelope on this robust and well-rounded production.
A New Kind of Dance; Markovsko Horo; Candyland; Kwela for Taylor; Reesie's Waltz; Jackie's Tune; Wonderland; Star Crossed Lovers; Fear Not of Man; AKA Reib Letsma.
Greg Ward: sax (contralto); Tim Haldeman: sax (tenore); Jason Roebke: contrabbasso; Mike Reed: batteria, percussioni; Marquis Hill: tromba; Matthew Shipp: pianoforte.