Producer and Posi-Tone co-head Marc Free wears a lot of hats, including those of curator and cooperative chemist. Since 2018, Free has been piecing together various outfits and concepts, tipping his hat to touchstones, adding new slants to his label's rich catalog and engaging in outreach and audience development in the process. Not content to simply settle for the stautus quo, Free has found a way to present a stable of important artists, both established and emerging, that draws on the music's history in subtle ways while demonstrating forward-looking ideals that can serve as a magnet for the next generation.
Idle Hands, a sextet of extraordinary means, uses the instrumentation of guitarist Grant Green's Idle Moments (Blue Note, 1965) as a template of sorts. But that embrace of a guitar, vibes, tenor saxophone, piano, bass and drums lineup is basically where the similarities end. This music doesn't push the past as a stock worth investing in. Instead, as with most Posi-Tone projects, originals dominate the playlist. Everybody in the band contributes music, and a pair of choice coversa sweeping, Brazilian-influenced take on Stevie Wonder's "You and I" and a spirited trip through Freddie Hubbard's "Theme for Kareem"sweetens the deal.
A group of label regularsguitarist Will Bernard, vibraphonist Behn Gillece, tenor saxophonist Sam Dillon, pianist Art Hirahara and the rhythm tandem of bassist Boris Kozlov and drummer Donald Edwardscreate and navigate these varied scenarios with aplomb. The hits and turns are right on the money during Gillece's aptly-titled "Barreling Through," jaunty lines abound on Kozlov's "Over The Fence," the harmonies of Hirahara's "Event Horizon" effortlessly refract light and beauty, and a blend of intrigue and excitement rules the day on Edwards' hip "Dock's House." Add to that some winners like Dillon's waltzing "Motion" and Bernard's springy "Silver Bullet" and you have a well-balanced set that speaks to individual strengths and growth through grouping. This may very well be a one-and-done gathering, but this band deserves a longer lifespan. Solid Moments shows us that Idle Hands could have some serious legs.
Barreling Through; Silver Bullet; Over The Fence; Snow Child; Event Horizon; Maxwell Street; You And I;
The Move; Ashes; Dock's House; Motion; Theme For Kareem.
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