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Drummer Brooke Sofferman has all the right stuff. His self-produced debut album shows that from its very start. This highly recommended quintet session features Sofferman’s loose modern mainstream compositions and an ensemble that permits each artist to express freely without falling into traditional roles. Bassist Thomson Kneeland solos lyrically and with a fluid technique. Guitarist Norm Zocher comps as needed and stretches out often. His superimposed harmonic interaction with saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi drives the ensemble with deliberation; particularly on "Shaodare." I could listen to Bergonzi all year long. To get an idea yourself, there’s a substantial audio sample from this album at Sofferman’s web page .
The composer employs odd meters, polyrhythms and changing meters to express his intended message. The result is quite refreshing and full of tricky surprises. Abby Aronson’s crystal clear vocal phrases make a welcome addition to the ensemble as she interprets lyrics thoughtfully, scat sings with moody abandon, and inserts vocalese energy in tandem with Bergonzi’s tenor sax passion. Sofferman’s creative ideas, applied talent, and his ensemble’s free spirit have produced a winner.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.