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See Through 4: Permanent Moving Parts

Chris May By

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See Through 4: Permanent Moving Parts
Composer and bassist Pete Johnston, leader of Toronto's See Through 4, cites Lennie Tristano and Eric Dolphy as primary reference points for the quartet's music. As a listener, you may feel such connections are tenuous. Whatever his strengths, Tristano was not known for playfulness, a quality which runs through Permament Moving Parts. Plus, the contrapuntalism to be heard has at least as much to do with Gerry Mulligan's pianoless quartet with Chet Baker as it does with Tristano. And while the lyricism of the music might remind you of Dolphy's flute playing, along with the melodism of countless other musicians, there are none of the minatory edges which caused Miles Davis to say in a Blindfold Test, "The saxophonist must be Eric Dolphy. Nobody else could sound that bad."

What Permament Moving Parts does have in common with Tristano and Dolphy, as it does with all the best jazz, is freshness, inventiveness and (optional extra) experimentalism. The band—which is completed by vibraphonist Michael Davidson, trumpeter Lina Allemano and drummer Jake Oelrichs—is also a listening band, in which the individual musicians are acutely attentive and responsive to each other. This quality is more often apparent in groups by its absence rather than its (talked up) presence.

And, at the risk of overdoing the Mulligan Quartet analogy, the eight tracks on the album, all of them written by Johnson, have short playing times. The average length is under five minutes. Not quite short enough to fit on one side of a Mulligan Pacific Jazz single in the 1950s perhaps, but concise by 2021 standards.

Other good things: Johnson and Oelrichs' swinging foundational pulses, which combine muscle with delicacy; and the frontline duets, both scored and improvised, between Davidson and Allemano.

There is a lot to be enjoyed here, and a lot of fun to be had doing so. Judging from the vibe of the inner-sleeve band photo, See Through 4 had a good time making the album, too.

Track Listing

Underground Over Night; Everything Happens Once; Weathering Teenage Hopes; Quietly Fading Fast; Possible Daylight Dreams; Imperfect Sunlit Room; Surrender Before Then; Familiar Second Thoughts.

Personnel

Pete Johnston: bass; Lina Allemano: trumpet; Michael Davidson: vibraphone; Jake Oelrichs: drums.

Album information

Title: Permanent Moving Parts | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: All-Set! Editions

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