Jazz albums without chordal instruments can sometimes sound arid. But that is decidedly not the case with Jason Palmer's Rhyme And Reason. The members of his quartet fit together organically, and the contrapuntal interplay between the trumpeter and his co-front man, tenorist Mark Turner, is remarkably tight. But the backline too is populated by a taut rhythm section comprising Matt Brewer on bass and Kendrick Scott on drums. "Backline" is something of an understatement since both Brewer and Turner deliver stunning, top-flight performances throughout.
The title track opens with a sprightly two-minute solo from Palmer. His trumpet playing always seems upbeat and outgoing rather than moody and solipsistic. The tune is embellished with a fast, labyrinthine duet between the two horns in an Ornette Coleman / Don Cherry fashion before the solos proper commence. Brewer leads off on "Blue Grotto," and continues by methodically tracing the melody along with the trumpet and sax. This undoubtedly adds to the number's overall piquancy. The final five minutes of "Sadhana" showcase Scott's drumming, in which he provides a master class in flair, technique and disciplined restraint.
Towards the final minutes of "The Hampton Inn (For Alan)" there's some almost magical unison playing from Palmer and Turner. "Mark's Place" opens with a pizzicato bass solo from Brewer, and is subsequently festooned with Palmer's trademark short staccato runs. Occasionally Palmer throws a fleeting quote into the mix as is heard at 5'14" on "Waltz For Diana" with a few seconds of "My Favourite Things." The finale, "Kalispel Bay" is a perfect example of how well this unit coalesces. The song's head is deceptively complex and yet sounds mellow and effortless. What is apparent with this album, recorded live at the Jazz Gallery, NYC, on June 7 and 8, 2018, is the way in which the quartet produces music which theoretically should require a sizeable degree of concerted concentration on the part of the listener. However, in actuality, the pieces flow naturally and mellifluously. They are satisfyingly well-structured yet paradoxically demand no great effort on the part of the audience (as the enthusiastic applause attests). With Rhyme And Reason, Palmer seems to have executed a perfect double set. Incidentally, the album's label is the product of the non-profit organisation Giant Step Arts which exists to present premiere performances whilst supporting and rewarding the artists well.
CD 1: Herbs In A Glass; Rhyme And Reason; Blue Grotto; Sadhana; CD 2: The Hampton Inn (For Alan);
Mark’s Place; Waltz For Diana; Kalispel Bay.
Jason Palmer: trumpet; Mark Turner: tenor saxophone; Matt Brewer: bass; Kendrick Scott: drums
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