Guitarist Michael Aarons has emerged as a busy jazz and session player since completing his term at the Manhattan School of Music in the late 90s. On this spirited live outing, he enlists pianist Sebastian Weiss, bassist Ranaan Meyer, and drummer Dan Weiss for a set of varied and advanced original music. Displaying a knack for quartal harmony and angular, intervallic improvisation, Aarons and friends burn confidently through the up-tempo numbers "Not By Coincidence," "The Wizard of Odd," and "My Bag." There’s a more laid-back hard bop vibe to "Legacy," although Aarons stirs this one up to a boil as well with his rapid line playing. "The Hokemaster" is a playful mid-tempo blues; "The Initiation" and "Awakening" soften the mood, the former with its meditative, minor-key Latin feel, the latter with a rubato structure that calls upon Ranaan’s Meyer’s arco skills. Aarons closes wistfully with the one studio cut, a brief solo acoustic guitar piece called "More Than You Know," not to be confused with the standard of the same name.
Despite a somewhat rattly, rough sound on the live cuts, Aarons’s chops and intelligence come through clearly, revealing traces of Wes Montgomery, Grant Green, and mentor Rodney Jones. Not By Coincidence
is also a satisfying encounter with Sebastian Weiss, who would soon begin an impressive catalog of his own on the Fresh Sound label.