Even though Half Note Records is building a highly appreciated catalog of jazz CD's recorded at New York's Blue Note jazz club, Half Noteand musician/producer Mordy Ferberthrow the listener an unanticipated curve with the release of Mr. X. Instead of the crackling energy of a live club recording, Mr. X crackles with a different type of energy: an energy of multi-leveled recording engineering feats in support of visionary and unconventional guitar work.
While the title track, "Mr. X," seems to take note of some of John Scofield's recent work, particularly with Joe Lovano, the progress of the CD reveals that Ferber is interested in increasing levels of complexity and contrasting approaches.
"Formerly With No One" ensues, and it stages the composition in several segments of unexpected development: Ferber's desultory introduction of amplified tone until Liebman picks up the pace with a solo that by turns sustains notes before its twisting quick runs. Liebman's staccatoed tonal variances and wails precede DeJohnette's extended solo of suspenseful crashes and thumps and rolls.
Contrast results when Ferber uses the acoustic guitar to develop the melody of "A Minor Tune" as Liebman and Gomez respond musically, heightening the song's meaning through their interaction. Charlie Haden's "Silence" isn't performed as Haden has played it in the past, but rather it assumes a Gallic sadness as Ferber and DeJohnette underlie Liebman's plaintive interpretation. "21st Century" loosens the metrical and tonal constraints of the previous tunes as its magisterial theme evolves into a free improvisation dramatized by electronic enhancement. Ferber's approach is one that's explorative and fresh, and one that's certainly of the same high level as the work of more highly recognized jazz guitar masters. We'll hear more from him in the future.
Mr. X; Formerly With No One; A Minor Tune; Silence; Fred Astaire In Chicago; Zipora (To My Mother); 21st Century
Mordy Ferber, electric, classical & synthesizer guitars; Dave Liebman, soprano sax; George Garzone, tenor sax; Brad Hatfield, keyboards; Eddie Gomez, bass; Jack DeJohnette, drums, Nana Vasconcelos, voice & percussion