Given that it is his debut disc, drummer Aaron Seeber's First Move
seems aptly titled. The music it offers is anything but an opening gambit, however; even after a cursory listen, it is quickly apparent that Seeber has been at this game for some time. From the top-shelf caliber of his associates, to his unfailing poise behind the kit, not to mention some great instincts for repertoire, Seeber has more than a few moves up his sleeve, and they always manage to impress.
On this live date, recorded in October 2021 at Brooklyn's Ornithology Club, the lineup includes two players Seeber has worked with extensively, bassist Ugonna Okegwo
and alto saxophonist Tim Green
, both of whom have appeared with the drummer in a variety of configurations. Just as significant are vibraphonist Warren Wolf
and pianist Sullivan Fortner
, who also have previous associations with Seeber on their resumes. This is the first installment with all five sharing the same stage, and the undeniable chemistry they produce is one of the album's charms.
The material generally stays comfortably within the mainstream jazz catalog, with a scintillating take on Mal Waldron
's "Fire Waltz" being the only piece that moves a bit outside. These are smart renditions from top to bottom, filled with the close interactions which characterize the best live jazz. Fortner is especially garrulous in his support, tossing out a steady stream of ideas to Wolf and Green during their solos, and responding generously in kind, especially on up-tempo pieces such as Al Foster
's "Brandyn" and Seeber's own "First Move." He also has some superlative moments of his own, not the least of which is his remarkable two-handed agility on Mulgrew Miller
's "Eleventh Hour."
Wolf matches Fortner's intensity on "Eleventh Hour" with a coruscating solo of his own; his more restrained moments might be even more compelling, as his winsome lyricism on Benny Golson
's "Out of the Past" reveals. Green's piquant assertiveness is evident throughout the album, but it is especially enticing on Charlie Parker
's "Klactoveedsedstene," where he shows no hesitation whatsoever in bringing his own limitless energy and stamina to a powerhouse solo to close out the set.
Rock-solid in anchoring the quintet, Okegwo and Seeber reap the benefits of their long partnership, keeping the pieces moving in dynamic fashion. Seeber is restlessly active throughout, accenting and coaxing the others' statements expertly. With plenty of crackling snare, as on "Fire Waltz," or muted brushwork on the band's gorgeous version of Charles Mingus
' "Duke Ellington's Sound of Love," the drummer does more than enough to establish his percussive skills. If he is able to produce an effort this strong on his debut, one can eagerly anticipate what Seeber's second or third moves might be on his upcoming releases.
Brandyn; Out of the Past; Eleventh Hour; Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love; First Move; Unconditional Love; Fire Waltz;
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