A modern mainstream quintet led by veteran drummer Matt Gordy invites comparisons to the Jazz Messengers of Art Blakey. Two horns and rhythm section work through interwoven ensemble counterpoint as well as in support of featured solo highlights. Gordy, 45, has chosen a program of five originals and one standard as the format for his third release as a leader.
The title track starts with a unison between alto saxophone and trumpet that is slightly out of tune. The effect creates a mood of tranquility and vulnerability. It turns out the tune has the same chordal structure as Irving Berlin’s "What’ll I Do," but with a different bridge. This is a fluid ballad and an opportunity for Marc Phaneuf to shine. While he and trumpeter Phil Grenadier display warm tone and delicate articulation, the overall effect leans toward the classical side of studied music. Phrasing, for the most part, seems stiff and forced into strict boundaries. Even though it’s a live club performance, too much care has been taken to get the notes "just right." Gordy "lets the quintet’s hair down" on his 5/4 piece "Night on the Island," as he leads the rhythm section in swinging support of the soloists. Piano, trumpet and saxophone work quite effectively through their ensemble interaction; however, various solo spots appear tight and rigid. "Proko" hits the mark as a dramatic quasi-Prokofiev piece. "Young and Foolish" pares the ensemble down to a piano trio, highlighting a lyrical ballad style from piano, bass and drums. What’s missing is an all-out blues romp to turn loose these five artists – who perform so well – for some carefree, soulful serenading.
Proko; Sweet Transients; Eclipse; Night on the Island; Young and Foolish; Frontiers.
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