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Sacha Perry: Not Brand X

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If you are looking for music to snooze by, steer clear of Sacha Perry. He is an electrifying pianist, like putting your finger in a socket.

On Not Brand X, Perry delves into an unusual array of standards, which Perry-ized are anything but "standard. There's a bounce, a swing, but dissonance and sure-handed adventurousness too. You can hear the influence of bebop (and of folks like Bud Powell, Elmo Hope and Thelonious Monk, masters of whom this pianist has surely made a study). But this is not simply bebop revived or reinvented nor is it a channeling of others, however great. Perry has a voice all his own.

There's repetition and variation, suspense and, as with Monk, a sense of playfulness but devout seriousness as well—jagged edges and spaces, rainstorms or drizzles of notes, clamorous chords, twists and turns. With the harmonically advanced Perry you can't know exactly where you are going, moment to moment, but you can feel secure the journey is worthwhile.

Admittedly, the tunes are an eclectic mix. "Mine is a Gershwin tune created for a 1933 musical, Let 'Em Eat Cake. "Love, once sung by Lena Horne, hails from a 1946 Ziegfeld Follies. "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?, an anthem to mass depression from the 1930s, conveys deeply felt gravity about the human condition that scalds yet chills. And there's brilliant lunacy in the TV theme "This Is It from The Bugs Bunny Hour.

Less important than the songs is how Perry and company realize them. He is supported by the taste and focus of longtime collaborators—bassist Ari Roland and drummer Phil Stewart—from New York's Smalls jazz club. Roland favors bowed solos that are artful and entertaining. And savor Stewart's solo on "All God's Chillun Got Rhythm, proving that at least one of God's chillun got it.

Track Listing: Mine; Love; Brother Can You Spare a Dime?; Give It Back to the Indians; All God

Personnel: Sacha Perry: piano; Ari Roland: bass; Phil Stewart: drums.

Title: Not Brand X | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Smalls Records


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