Pianist Peter Hum's second albumAlpha Moment
was recorded back in December of 2011, but there's good reason for the fact that it's only just seeing the light of day in 2015: Hum has had his hands full, serving as the restaurant critic at the Ottawa Citizen
, delivering some of the most informative and insightful jazz journalism out there via his blog
, and living life to the fullest with his family whenever he puts his pen down. With all of that going on, carving out time to finalize an album release just wasn't a top priority, so the process took far longer than it probably should have. Regardless, Alpha Moment
is finally here, and it, like all good things, was worth waiting for. Alpha Moment
finds Hum back at the center of the same impressive band that appeared on his debutA Boy's Journey
(Self Produced, 2010). The only difference this time is that he ups the ante by adding Juno Award-winning guitarist Mike Rud
to the mix. Together, Hum and his band matesRud, saxophonists Nathan Cepelinski
and Kenji Omae
, bassist Alec Walkington, and drummer Ted Warren
come off like a well-oiled working group, despite the fact that they're actually spread out across five cities in three different countries. Due to that geographical separation, Hum amusingly refers to this assemblage as "the world's most impractical band." But practical or not, it made sense for him to use these musicians: he has shared history with all of them, having deeply connected on a musical level with each at various times over the past several decades, so why shouldn't he capitalize on that chemistry?
The all-original program opens with the buoyant and upbeat "The Good Fight" followed by the gripping "Roma Rising." The latter, which proves to be one of the album highlights, is a number in five that's a bit disorienting at first because of the way Hum masks the meter using over-the-bar-line phrasing. As the piece moves along through the engaging melody, Hum's electric piano statements, and some back and forth blowing from Omae and Cepelinski, the rhythmic terrain starts to feel more familiar and comfortable. From there, Hum further diversifies his compositional portfolio, delivering the balladic "La Tendresse, S.V.P.," which features a memorable Walkington solo, and "Voices From Afar," a glazed-over gem that seduces while flirting with Brazilian inflections.
The second half of the album opens with the title tracka multi-dimensional offering introduced by Rud and Hum. Warren takes the reins in due time, setting the song on its swinging path and pulling back in the proper places to allow for momentary reflection as new soloists enter the picture. Each of the three remaining pieces impress in different ways: "Bon Vivant" is built atop Walkington's asymmetrical bedrock riffing at first, but the piece turns into a soloists showcase further down the line; "Carlingwood" is an uplifting number in five that gives Rud and Cepelinski some space before Omae adds his voice as the power builds; and the introspective, Pat Metheny
-esque "Saddest Day Of The Year" brings things to a close in gentle, contemplative fashion.
While it's understandable that Hum often has to put his playing and composing on the back burner, it's a real shame. His musical voice is just as captivating, articulate, and thought-provoking as his journalistic voice.