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Math made simple. Put two and two together, and you get Times 4, a San Francisco-based jazz group that mixes the old with the new, and lots of stuff in between. Drummer Maurice Miles and bassist Kevin Lofton were friends and musical collaborators in high school. Likewise, saxophonist Lincoln Adler and keyboardist Greg Sankovich were musical friends as teens. Together, the two pairs of old friends form a quartet that is as diverse as it is original.
The group's sophomore release, Relations, is a blend of old-school improvisation with modern influences. This is evident on the first track, "M.O., a title derived from the word play between the group's modus operandi and Miles' nickname, "Mo. Naturally, Miles sets the pace with superb stick handling, skillfully using the bass, snare, toms and complete array of cymbals. Adler leads for much of the piece with his bluesy tenor sax. While Sankovich and Lofton are mostly in the background, they still make their presence felt.
Lofton takes point on "Thickness, with a funky bass line worthy of Marcus Miller. Sankovich applies background keys but also enhances this groove with a bit of piano play.
While all the tracks are good, one of the more enjoyable selections is "Cell Phone. Inspired by a freestyle jam the group has played, this danceable melody is catchy without sounding cliché. All players are in the moment, and it's easy to tell they're enjoying it. The group later stretches out on the eight-minute title song and another improvised piece, "Central Park. Other noteworthy tracks include "Mojito, "Full Moon and "Hericane.
Relations is a collection of ten original tracks that offer something familiar without giving the listener a sense of "been there, done that. At times, the music sounds like a throwback to the days of Tom Scott and the L.A. Express and Return to Forever. However, the music is all new, and the band delivers its own sound.
Track Listing: M.O.; Mojito; Thickness; Cell Phone; Enterlude; Full Moon; Relations; Central Park; Hericane; Exitlude.
Personnel: Greg Sankovich: keyboards; Kevin Lofton: bass; Lincoln Adler: sax; Maurice Miles: drums.
Jazz is a creative explosion of individual freedom and communication.
I was first exposed to jazz when I was a kid. My father had a music store.
The best live performance I ever attended was Kenny Garrett in Harlem, New York.
The first jazz record I bought was Saxophone Colossus by Sonny Rollins.
My advice to new listeners is keep listening!