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Tenor saxophonist Peter Sommer is at the Crossroads with Rich Perry (tenor saxophone), Eric Gunnison (piano), Ken Walker (bass) and Todd Reid (drums), as they parlay a selection of standards and originals into an interesting journey through focus and commitment.
Sommer is not apprehensive in reshaping a standard and taking it in a new direction. In doing so, he raises the stakes in tandem with Perry. The contrast in their styles makes it all the more entertaining.
"Dance Cadaverous" is one of the more challenging pieces on the album. Sommer navigates the harmonic gates with precision; his ideas simmer and keep the glow long after he has handed the skein to Walker, who nudges the pulse ever so gently to open up a different vista. Collaboration is the calling card of the band and Gunnison does his part by illuminating the tune with notes that soak in the melody before he moves off at a tangent in search of new pasture. Perry completes the circle with warm phrases that throb with passion.
The mood changes for the infectious "Carpe Coffee." The tempo is light and flexes the beat as Sommer lets his horn swing and sway it nicely. His forward thrust adds to the impact but he keeps the whole within a modulated dimension. Gunnison turns in quick turns of line and phrase but as is his wont, gives the melody plenty of room. Reid completes the circle with a crisp bed of rhythm and colorful accents.
Perry and Sommer play off each other as they head into "Alone Together." When two protagonists come together and then spark divergent phrases, the result is riveting. So it is here, before they go their separate ways to swing with a controlled abandon on a bebop adventure.
Sommer and his band make this a pleasing mainstream effort with their sparkle and energy.
Track Listing: Escapade; The Fruit; Dance Cadaverous; Think of One; Shoshin; Carpe Coffee; Alone Together; 'Round Midnight.
Personnel: Peter Sommer: tenor saxophone; Rich Perry: tenor saxophone (1, 2, 4-8); Eric Gunnison: piano; Ken Walker: bass; Todd Reid: drums.
I love jazz because it mixes intellect and emotion in a very spontaneous way.
I was first exposed to jazz by liberating a Coltrane and a Pharoah Sanders record from a friend in NYC and listening to them over and over until I got it.
My advice to new listeners is you have to take the time to listen to some jazz tunes a number of times until it starts to make sense.