Bassist Alexis Cuadrado (he’s a guy) leads a quintet on this fine all-original session. Kicking off with "Nit," based on "Night In Tunisia" changes, pianist Pete Rende and guitarist Steve Cardenas trade buoyant 8-bar statements over a dancing 6/8 groove, ultimately yielding the floor to an eloquent solo by Cuadrado himself. Cardenas and alto saxophonist Kris Bauman return with a tight shout chorus before the main theme returns. The band segues effortlessly into the mellow, swinging "New and Old," then brings the rhythm to a boil on "One Way Ticket," for which Rende switches to Fender Rhodes. Cardenas waxes Metheny-esque on the ballad "Like Henry" (and Ferber contributes nice percussive flavors); then Cuadrado cops a bit of the "Better Get Hit In Your Soul" feel on "’Round Mingus," a rocking 11/8 vehicle. (The folky cadences also bring Abdullah Ibrahim to mind.) Pete Rende’s haunting pedal steel work resounds throughout "An October’s Cold Night" — apparently it’s overdubbed, since Rende is also heard again on Rhodes. Bauman’s clarinet is another conspicuous departure on this somewhat ghostly track. Rounding out the program are "Ben’s Waltz," dedicated to pianist Ben Waltzer, and "Nana-Blues Grotesque," an off-kilter country tune. Throughout, Cuadrado exhibits maturity and emotional depth as a composer, bandleader and soloist. His music fits the Fresh Sound aesthetic perfectly (some of it sounds a bit like Chris Cheek’s writing); after some six sideman appearances for the Barcelona-based label, his debut is a welcome addition to the catalog.
1. Nit 2. New and Old 3. One Way Ticket 4. Like Henry 5.
Alexis Cuadrado, bass; Kris Bauman, saxophone and clarinet; Steve Cardenas, guitar; Pete Rende, piano, Rhodes, pedal steel; Mark Ferber, drums