170

Billy Lester: Four into Four

Elliott Simon By

Sign in to view read count
Billy Lester: Four into Four Four into Four, recorded live at NYC’s Roulette, with its sense of swing and tight rhythms, gives the impression that the Billy Lester Quartet can see for miles, but then those who stand on the shoulders of giants can. Pianist Lester is a self-admitted anachronism who during the ‘50s and ‘60s, while piano jazz evolved modally along the route charted by Bill Evans and McCoy Tyner, became a Powell/Tristano and Louis Armstrong devotee. His writing style turns a jazz standard, through chord manipulation and inversion, into new music with fresh improvisations and harmonies. Add to this the dexterously agile trumpet of Simon Wettenhall and this live gig becomes well worth preserving.

The disc’s title is a clever allusion to the 4/4 time signature championed by Tristano and adhered to by the compact rhythm section of bassist Sean Smith and drummer Russ Meissner. While Smith keeps things pumping at a quick pace on these five extended cuts, Meissner is more of a random variable not averse to throwing his bandmates a percussive curve. Such is the case on “Person-L,” based on Gershwin’s “Somebody Loves Me,” as Meissner sets up the changes for creative Lester and Wettenhall solo exchanges. Both frontmen expertly explore their melodic lines but in doing so set up a tenuous tension that makes for interesting repartee that can occur at lightning speed. Lester melodically clips along on “Grasshopper’s Holiday,” hardly pausing as he unobtrusively slips in some antimelodic phrases, before he hands the reins over to Wettenhall, who trumpets his way through some decidedly boppish runs. The remaining cuts continue this precise interplay with Meissner playing all over his drums when given the spotlight. The setting provides fertile ground for Lester’s inventive stylings as he shows that Four can go into Four innumerable ways.


Track Listing: 1. Person-L (9:55) 2. Grasshopper's Holiday (11:05) 3. G-Minor Jazz (8:02) 4. Oso Furioso (7:26) 5. Skip's Bounce (8:39)

Personnel: Sean Smith: Bass; Simon Wettenhall: Trumpet; Billy Lester: Piano; Russ Meissner: Drums.

Year Released: 2004 | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Texas Times" CD/LP/Track Review Texas Times
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 14, 2016
Read "Enter the PlusTet" CD/LP/Track Review Enter the PlusTet
by Troy Collins
Published: October 23, 2016
Read "Pastures" CD/LP/Track Review Pastures
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 26, 2016
Read "Rejoice! I'm Dead!" CD/LP/Track Review Rejoice! I'm Dead!
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 11, 2017
Read "Open Window / Flying Colors" CD/LP/Track Review Open Window / Flying Colors
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 22, 2016
Read "Forgive and Forget" CD/LP/Track Review Forgive and Forget
by Edward Blanco
Published: January 9, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!