Guitarist Derek Bronston has played with wide spectrum of creative artists. That list includes Jerry Gonzalez, Tom Harrell, D.D. Jackson, and Cecil Taylor; and he regularly gigs the New York City jazz scene with his eponymous quartet. Ebb, his second CD as composer and band leader after 1999's Longing, offers nine original tracks of mellow, acoustic jazz from a quartet consisting of guitar, sax, bass and drums.
Ebb starts and finishes in a somber mood, bracketed by the slow swing of "River Looking" and the short dirge of "Lullaby for a Wedding." In between, a few moderate up-tempo grooves accelerate the pace, like "Dream" and "Somewhere in Time," but after each, the vibe comfortably settles back into tranquility, with the sad drone of the alto sax in "Waiting" or the yearning soprano sax on "Conversation."
On the title track, the musky tone of the high register baritone sax melody over Bronston's ringing arpeggiated chords provides the most moving moment of the record. The traditional jazz flavor of the rhythm section, with upright bass and soft, pinging ride cymbal, ideally matches the purring hollow-body guitar and the sinuous, breathy saxophone. Bronston's serene tunes and the group's delicate and emotive playing perfectly capture a smoky jazz club vibe, at the end of the night when only a few stalwarts are left, and the bartender is starting to sweep up a little early. That's often when those last stragglers get to hear insightful music from skilled musicians, even though the rest of the room sits empty. Ebb shuns modern sound and flashy playing to flourish in this peaceful, restrained mood.
Bronston's Ebb slides through fifty minutes of blue jazz, with a profound subtlety of melody and performance that doesn't really sink in until the CD has already ended. For more information, Bronston's web page has annoying automatic audio, scant bio information, and a poor design showing a blank front page in IE 5.5, but the Labor Records site has a helpful bio and information on Ebb.