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Rob Ryndak & Tom Lockwood: Gratitude

Nicholas F. Mondello By

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There's poignancy about the titles of the selections on this fine album that generates reflection. Perhaps that was the intention of the two composers, Rob Ryndak and Tom Lockwood . However, the music of Gratitude—all original, highly textural—solidifies this supposition.

Incorporating a crew of fine Chicago-area musicians along with guest trumpeter Brian Lynch, Ryndak and Lockwood send up an eclectic buffet. The fine writing tends to be more contemporary than straight-ahead. There's also a significant percussive aspect to almost all the tracks. There's a driving "Equilibrium," a samba in "2 Against" and a sparking and swinging "Jackie McFunk," all within the first handful-plus of cuts. Pianist Ryndak -who is terrific throughout -is also a studied and active percussionist. That's your answer.

Multiple-woodwind artist Lockwood shares compositional duties with Ryndak. Lockwood's fare meshes superbly with his buddy's. "So Little Time" is a triple-metered offering with a melancholic melodic line (with terrific solos by guitarist Sasha Brusin, Lynch and the composer). It is an album highlight. The incorporation of vibraphone and cello, juxtaposed with Lockwood's fine soprano on the laid-back "Internal Silence" is another sparkler. Its timbre is perfect for introspection. The modal nature of the noir-ish "I'd Rather Die" is another example, as is the beautifully arranged/orchestrated closer, "Jardin á Giverny."

The ensemble playing and improvisations on this session across the board are A-1. Lockwood's various woodwinds soar and intriguingly explore. Trumpeter Lynch, always a higher-energy chap, is on his game here twirling ignited ribbons of improvised commentary. Rhythm mates pianist Steve Talaga, drummer Jeff Moehle, bassist Karl E. H. Seigfried, mallet man Micah Rutschman, and percussionist Victor Gonzalez are a superior support team.

In an era when streamed-track selectivity is the norm, Gratitude strikes as an effort that is best served in toto. There's too much thought, fine playing, and music here to leave any one morsel behind.

Track Listing: Equilibrium; Whatever Happens; Just as They Are; Jackie McFunk; Hermitage; Two against; Gratitude; So Little Time; Interior Silence; I'd Rather Die; Dwelling in the Present; Jardin á Giverny.

Personnel: Rob Ryndak: piano and percussion (2, 4, 6, 12); Tom Lockwood: saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet, flute; Brian Lynch: trumpet; Sasha Brusin: electric and acoustic guitar; Karl E.H. Seigfried: electric and acoustic bass; Jeff Moehle: drums; Victor Gonzalez, Jr.: congas, bongos and percussion; Micak Rutschman: vibraphone; Ryan Koranda: cello; Steve Talaga: piano (2, 4, 6, 10, 12), electric piano (8).

Title: Gratitude | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Pacific Coast Jazz

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