Bassist Martin Wind has appeared on more than eighty CDs and movie soundtracks, and is a pillar of groups led by pianists Bill Mays and Don Friedman, drummer Matt Wilson, and pianist/singer Dena DeRose. Salt n' Pepper! is a rare outing for Wind as leader and reveals talents that go beyond his enviable bass chops and big ears. For one thing, the CD really showcases his formidable gifts as composer, since seven of the ten tunes are his. The others are Duke Ellington and Bill Evans classics, and a jaunty version of Thelonious Monk's rarely-heard "Bright Mississippi," which was written over the changes to "Sweet Georgia Brown." Wind's good taste, versatility, and dry humor are also evident throughout in his producer's choice of sound, pacing, and arrangements.
The opener signals that this will be an intriguing journey: "Dream" begins with a splendid solo by pianist Bill Cunliffe and then weaves through different landscapes, just like a nocturnal reverie. Given the consistently high quality of this CD, it's difficult to pick highlights, but favorites include the droll "Remember October 13th," a swinging "Turn Out the Stars," the thoughtful "Cruise Blues" and the riotous "Early Morning Blues," neither of which follows the predictable blues formula. Wind's playing is very strong throughoutboth lyrical and swingingand his arco commentary on "Come Sunday" is particularly rich and satisfying. In fact, each member of the Martin Wind Quartet is world-class, with multi-reedist Scott Robinson providing imaginative instrumentation and unusually atmospheric playing.
In the liner notes to Salt 'N Pepper!, Matt Wilson describes the quartet as "sonic chefs" who blend basic condiments and flavors into "an extraordinary menu." Stretching the culinary metaphor a little further, it can be said that this varied buffet of fresh and favorite melodies, rendered so wonderfully by this stellar group of musicians, is nothing less than delicious.
The Dream; Bright Mississippi; Remember October 13th; Turn Out the Stars; The Cruise Blues; 10 Minute Song; Mr. Friesen; Big Al; Early Morning Blues; Come Sunday.
Martin Wind: bass; Bill Cunliffe: piano; Scott Robinson: tenor sax, bass clarinet, Echo Cornet (9); Greg Hutchinson: drums.
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