Teeming with energy and ideas, eager to learn and anxious to show how they've educated themselves, Planet Safety evinces a healthy respect for the jazz tradition. Significantly, that reverence includes recognition for the masters from whom they learned and who gained their lofty staturein part, by breaking free of established tradition.
Keyboardist Leo Genovese, bassist Dave Zinno and drummer Bob Gullotti spring into motion on this CD, playing Wayne Shorter's "Pinocchio" with a vigor that distinguishes it as truly modern jazz. Genovese references the melody on piano just enough to make the track accessible, while Zinno succeeds him in a smooth transition that belies the bassist's own insistent attack. Meanwhile, Gullotti doesn't merely keep time; he maintains rhythm sufficiently firmly to reaffirm he's ready to move into prominence whenever called upon, which is just before this vibrant track ends. Gullotti offers a flurry of well-placed rolls that effectively sets the tone for the rest of this album of originals, and covers also including music from Miles Davis and Chick Corea. In the choice and composition of material, Planet Safety pushes boundaries for both the listener and the band.
Not everything is so pure as the acoustic piano/bass/drums opener, or Zinno's "Three Things." The group-composed "Voices" contains odd synth textures from which emerges an otherworldly, primal chant. The top-notch sound quality of the recording is an asset here in revealing the disparate textures in the mix, but similar detail is evident throughout the album, when the three musicians, for all intents and purposes, are often soloing simultaneously as on "United."
"Planet Safety" covers much ground in its short duration of a little over three minutes. Meanwhile, the Boston-based trio demonstrates some ambition with the three-part suite, "Three Cycle Laundry Machine." They may have their collective tongue in cheek here, but they execute the melody lines dexterously, and render the rhythm patterns so they resonate deeply. This is music for the head and the body.
Not surprisingly, none of this eponymous CD ever becomes mere background sounds. The twists and turns the threesome takes on "Alone Together" demonstrate their own internal logic. Yet the music isn't all breathless escapades of idiosyncratic exploration: "Humpty Dumpty" is a quiet extended movement, though hardly easy listening as Gulloti, Genovese and Zinnogoing all acousticstretch at odd angles from each other.
This interlude itself is enough to recommend hearing Planet Safety live. The oddly eye-catching cover graphics, not to mention the cryptic name of the band, may also pique the curiosity. Follow your instincts the band does.