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Guitarist Mike Baggetta's versatility has been in the thick of New York's creative music scene, whether performing with Tom Harrell or front-lining projects like Bridges (MabnotesMusic, 2011), a duo recording with trumpeter Kris Tiner. Source Material is Baggetta's follow up to 2009's Small Spaces (Fresh Sound), with a working quartet that includes robust sax work from Jason Rigby, veteran drummer George Schuller and rising bassist Eivind Opsvik. What sets this recording on higher ground is not just the caliber of these musicians, but how they communicate and interpret Baggetta's material.
"Tonic" is precursor of things to come, a lithesome piece that starts with an inquisitive drum solo and an infectious rhythmic thread, some luscious harmonies, and a floating bass pattern. It opens up with gorgeously fervent solos and a lyrical imprint that sings long after the melody ends. There are plenty of guitarists with chops but few whose fingers can write and paint pictures this musically. "Nathan" has that friendly, rustic persona, with Baggetta putting down some Bill Frisell-esque licks in a setting that's far removed from New York's hustling environment.
But the concrete jungle emerges in "Momentum," with elastic distortion guitar and some tricky maneuvering within a rigorous swing tempo. "The Sky & The Sea" is altogether different, Opsvik conveying a shadowy bass solo before Baggetta probes imaginatively on acoustic guitar and Schuller tinkers with equally creative percussion embellishments. The program continues in fine form with plenty of surprises, yet a consistent quality, on the spacious and inviting "The Winter Moon," a striking solo acoustic guitar track, or the circuitous grind of "Projections," where the tempo nearly flies off its axis but is held in check by the rhythm section's skill.
When vigorous composition and improvisation come together as one, it sounds like Source Material.
Track Listing: Tonic; Nathan; Liberty; Momentum; The Sky & The Sea; The Winter Moon; A Trust Issue; Projections; Camp.
Personnel: Mike Baggetta: guitars; Jason Rigby: saxophones; Eivind Opsvik: bass; George Schuller: drums.