U.K.-based Naim label has been a cornerstone of high-end audio quality, and that tradition continues on Seize The Time, a studio date featuring Chicago drummer Ted Sirota and his diverse perspective on the jazz idiom. The mindset, or perhaps underlying force, behind this session is encapsulated by the drummer who suggests that the world is in a state of flux, marked by compounding crises. But as the album title states, it is necessary to seize the opportunity, as crisis often sparks tenacity.
The quintet dishes out sprightly calypso jazz, anthem-like themes, bop and other frameworks, where Sirota serves as an accelerator at various pulses. The three-soloist frontline attack offers a study in warmly crafted harmonics, amid fiery dynamics and abundant contrasts. They fuse Stephen Foster's Americana classic, "Hard Times (Come Again No More)," into a jazz ballad, sparked by saxophonist Greg Ward and Geof Bradfield's swirling bass clarinet lines.
Sirota tackles dub on "Tollway," featuring guitarist Dave Miller's rhythmic chord voicings and phased single note licks, all treated with a dash of echo. The drummer then pays homage to the late Max Roach on his melodic and polyrhythmic solo jaunt, "Viva Max! (Improvised Drum Solo)." In other regions of sound, the band swings hard and delves into some rough and tumble improv segments, then gels with an African pop-jazz vibe on legendary vocalist Miriam Makeba's "Polo MZE Pt. 1 & Pt. 2."
Variety is a primary ingredient throughout this radiant set, brimming with nicely placed dynamics and jubilantly enacted hooks and motifs. Simply stated, the band sparks and sustains interest at various levels on an album that beckons repeated listens. They uncannily intertwine a good-timey vibe with enviable jazz chops and more.
Clampdown; 13 De Maio; Free Cell Block F, 'Tis Nazi U.S.A.; Hard Times (Come Again No More); Killa Dilla; Tollway; Viva Max! (Improvised Drums Solo); J.Y.D.; Polo MZE Pt. 1; Polo MZE Pt. 2; Little D; The Keys To Freedom.