The vibraphone is not often a lead instrument, but Ben Adams brings it up front on this quintet outing featuring an erudite set of tunes that he wrote. The music breathes through several harmonic patterns, which makes it interesting all the way. The musicians contribute to make the experience all the more absorbing, maintaining focus and employing an impeccable sense of time and swing.
Adams chooses to open with "Avery's Bedtime Song, a lovely tune that floats gently on the flugelhorn of Erik Jakobsen, the nuances creating an elliptical path with their changes in emphasis. Mitch Marcus' tenor gives the melody a deeper hue, and with Adams' coming, the atmosphere becomes more relaxed. The band swipes into the upbeat with the sprightly bop of "Conversation with Martin. Sameer Gupta sets a pliant pulse on the drums before Marcus comes up with a big, brawny tone. Adams is lithe, indulging in the melody even as he pushes the structure and completes the lure.
The strongest quintet collaboration comes on "Pocket Fiction, which skips in happily, the buoyancy kick-started by the horns. Gupta's drumming is crisp, his accents changing on the cusp of the tempo. Adams swings lightly, his path lit by the language he evokes from the vibraphone. The beat and the mood take an angular turn on the dark lines brought in by Marcus. Finally, Jekabson gets into bop mode and brings the tune full circle, the weave now complete and quite splendid.
Avery's Bedtime Song; Conversation with Martin; Patron Saint of Lost Causes; The Actual;
Sheltered Circle; Old Thoughts for a New Day; Pocket Fiction; Ghost at Infancy; Sea of Cortez.
Ben Adams: vibraphone; Erik Jekabson: trumpet, flugelhorn; Fred Randolph: acoustic bass;
Mitch Marcus: tenor saxophone; Sameer Gupta: drums.
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