Dramatic modern mainstream jazz contains curious harmonic concepts and rhythmic variety. Leading with tenor and soprano saxophones, Tim Ries provides six original pieces and two standards, from which his ensemble extracts the essential elements. A leading section member with the bands of Maynard Ferguson and Maria Schneider, Ries holds a master's degree in performance and composition from the University of Michigan. At 41, he's at a crossroads; where his writing and leadership mean as much as his searing solo work.
Organ and guitar give the septet a contemporary sound. The horns blend with an overly consonant mixture that cries out for variety. Everyone solos at some point in the program, creating punctuation for Ries' format. The Rolling Stones' "Moonlight Mile" stands apart as a beautiful ballad, while "What is this Thing Called Love" sashays pertly with unexpected pleasures. The leader's originals weave exotic themes with tension and release patterns. The counterpoint presents a mood, while each soloist supplies a matching interpretation. Ries has already proven that he's a superb saxophonist, and he wears that hat proudly on this session. His latest album presents another side of the artist: his suite-like modern mainstream compositional style, which earns him high marks.
Track Listing: The Sinner and the Saint, What Is This Thing Called Love, Copake, 4637, A Simpler Time, Hart's Beat, Alternate Blues, Moonlight Mile
Personnel: Tim Ries (tenor & soprano sax), Greg Gisbert (trumpet & flugelhorn), Michael Davis (trombone), Ben Monder (guitar), Stacey Shames (harp on tracks 3 & 6 only), Larry Goldings (organ & piano), John Patitucci (bass), Billy Drummond (drums)