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Representing jazz's modern mainstream, Drew Gress' quartet album swings, while offeringat the same timeunexpected changes of direction. Saxophones, piano, bass and drums interact with a spirit that implies reserves of energy. That motion is sitting there, rocking, and waiting for a chance to explode. Fortunately, this veteran quartet knows how to harness the energy. Uri Caine provides exciting dances up and down the piano's keyboard, with measured phrases that format his creative ideas. Tim Berne offers a thin, edgy tone that blends with piano and darts in and out of the quartet's improvised counterpoint. His classical approach to the alto saxophone carries a warm feeling that serves to unify the ensemble. Gress and Tom Rainey interact as partners in this foursome; they're not here simply to provide a rhythm. Instead, each of the four artists accepts equal roles.
Drew Gress, 42, grew up in the Baltimore/Washington DC area and now works out of New York. While he considers his East Coast environment conducive to an aggressive style, Spin & Drift cannot be described as either hard-bop-derived or avant-garde experimentation. Rather, his band, Spin & Drift, communicates variety through tension and release. It's natural. From their rompin' and stompin' "Sledmouth Chronicles," to Gress' lyrical solo on "Pang," the session absorbs the listener because of its unpredictable changes and comfortable ease of transition.
Track Listing: Disappearing, Act 1; Torque; It Was After Rain That the Angel Came; Jet Precipice; Aquamarine; The Sledmouth Chronicles; Here, at the Bottom of the Sky; Pang; New Leaf.
Personnel: Drew Gress: acoustic bass, pedal steel guitar (6); Tim Berne: alto saxophone, baritone saxophone (1, 7, 9); Uri Caine: piano; Tom Rainey: drums, percussion.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.