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Mark Godfrey: Square Peg

Dan McClenaghan By

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Mark Godfrey has done his fair share of commuting in furtherance of his jazz career. Toronto—his home base—to New York has been a regular journey. The near five hundred mile trip would certainly be shorter (timewise) via airplane. But the decision was made to roll in a 2006 Dodge Caravan, due to the fact (we can guess) that an acoustic bass is a bulky yet fragile beast, susceptible to in transit damages. In your own vehicle, you can treat the big burnished piece of wood and strings like a carton of eggs.

Supposition aside, the cover art of Godfrey's album, Square Peg, features a three van caravan, driving westbound, pointing at Toronto, where the bassist works with his much lauded Pram Trio, records with keyboardist Teri Parker and freelances prolifically. The Mark Godfrey Quintet is a "two sax front line and a rhythm section quintet." The group has crafted a modern sound, full of urgency on "Skyline" and shimmering beauty on "Black Stars," that opens with thirty seconds of what sounds like an electro Gregorian Chant, but is probably some sort of arco bass extended technique. As a whole the tune has an inside/outside dynamic, with a Miles Davis Nefertiti (Columbia, 1968) mood.

"No Gig Today" blows out a carefree dance, and "One Game Away From Winter" is melancholy and introspective. It could be about the end of baseball season—Godfrey is rumored to be a Toronto Blue Jays fan.

Godfrey has assembled a skilled and cohesive band. Square Peg, his second recording with the quintet, has a distinctive verve and sparkle, a big full sound, instigative piano/drum work from Chris Pruden and Nick Fraser, respectively, and wonderful unison blowing interspersed with intricate interweavings from the saxophonists, Matt Woroshyl and Allison Au.

Track Listing

Black Stars; Square Peg; No Gig Today; U.S.S. Rent-A-Car; Skyline; One Game Away From Winter; Forty Minutes Or More; Driving Westbound; McDuff; Bucket List.

Personnel

Mark Godfrey; Allison Au: saxophone, alto; Matt Woroshyl: saxophone, tenor; Chris Pruden: piano; Nick Fraser: drums.

Album information

Title: Square Peg | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Self Produced

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