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Gordon Beeferman: Other Life Forms

Glenn Astarita By

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New York-based pianist, composer Gordon Beeferman is also a 2016 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow, in addition to his multifarious career spanning several music genres and extensive collaborations with a diverse array of artists and bands. On this outing he leads a quartet, featuring a notable cast of like-minded futurists.

Beeferman is armed with a distinct compositional style and is perhaps an under-recognized leader amid the 'new' music vibe, where progressive jazz is fused with classical, bop, swing and avant-garde offshoots. His works are complex, but he has an uncanny knack for equalizing the intricate parts with succinct melodies, quirky detours and smoothed-out plots that contain lithe flows. Essentially, his line of attack is partly devised with animated phrasings, delicate movements, and feverish improvisational outbreaks that do not consume or abandon the tangible themes.

Beeferman toggles between piano and organ as he directs the precision-oriented unit through chamber passages, cascading arrangements, and mutable emotive outcries. In addition, violaist Stephanie Griffin is a strong foil and multitasking machine throughout.

On "Hourglass Daydream" Beeferman instills a simple progression with oscillating chords on the organ, temperately supported by drummer Andrew Drury's medium tempo brushes across the snare, and followed by Pascal Niggenkemper's tender bass solo. However, it's like a calm-before-storm scenario, as if a catastrophic event looms ahead.

The quartet effortlessly merges bop, swing and chamber on the buoyant, "Puddle Jump." Here, Drury's forceful accents in unison with the bassist's unassuming groove is extended via the leader's sweeping piano solo and rapid right-hand leads, steering the musicians into ascending mini-themes and some reverse-engineering processes. However, the quartet raises the pitch and amps the momentum with tightknit unison signatures and Griffin's resonant lines.

They proceed to tear it up as Drury encircles the primary motif with polyrhythmic fury and hard-hitting beats. Yet the band changes colors again on the final track, aptly titled "That's a Wrap," which is an asymmetrical free-form jaunt, counterbalanced by Beeferman's bluesy organ parts and the unidentified wordless vocals that follow the subtle melody line. Hence, another provocative and congenial effort from a musician who appears to be too busy to routinely record his work, unlike many of his peers. In sum, Beeferman's musical world is a very special place that should not go unnoticed.

Track Listing: Get Got; Creep; Bad Strategy; Path; Hourglass Daydream; Puddle Jump; That's a Wrap.

Personnel: Gordon Beeferman: piano, Hammond C3 organ; Stephanie Griffin: viola; Pascal Niggenkemper: bass; Andrew Drury: drums.

Title: Other Life Forms | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Different Track Recordings

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