In a year when the hottest straight-ahead jazz CD featuring an alto saxophonist was recorded sixty years ago, it's important to remember that we must live in our own times as well. And in jazz music, where players carry on into their '80s, Loren Stillman at 23 is like a ten year-old playing major league baseball. But what an arm! (So to speak.) Composing and playing in the tradition of Lee Konitz and Greg Osby, Stillman includes eight originals on It Could Be Anything, featuring the leader's sweet tone matched with fluid soloing, satisfying melodies, clever countermelodies, and taut rhythmic interplay.
Stillman's alto coos and trills on "Noushka Foo, demonstrating a preference for reserved and gentle playing where many younger performers tend to favor volume and speed. Pianist Gary Versace's piano is dry and witty on "Evil Olive, and over the course of the disc his tasteful, in-control soloing vies with Stillman's for lyrical dominance. "A Common Thread speeds things up a bit, with Stillman blowing more aggressively in short, clipped clusters of notes. A brief duet with drummer Jeff Hirshfield closes the tune, Versace laying out and bassist Scott Lee entering to complete the trio.
Lee's well-recorded and attention-focusing bass consistently centers the performances, repeatedly pulling the rhythms back into position and his contribution to the Stillman/Hirshfield dialogue holds promise for a future trio session. Stillman's horn charms like a soprano on "Old San Juan, taking its direction from Lee's bowed intro, and "Simple Phrase lasts only a little longer than two minutes but infuses the program with energy.
Finally, the band saves its best for last on Lee's title cut, where driving pizzicato bass, quicksilver piano, finely edged alto, and crisp drumming all cohere in one of the best and most promising ensembles in jazz.
Evil Olive; Noushka Foo; A Common Thread; Gnu; Vignette: Ghost Town; Drawn Inward;
Old San Juan; A Simple Phrase; I Don
Loren Stillman: alto saxophone; Gary Versace: piano; Scott Lee: bass; Jeff Hirshfield:
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