Saxophonist Lucas Pino
's adventurous New York-based No Net Nonet is on record for the third time with That's a Computer
(yes, there's a story behind that but it's too lengthy to recount here), which underscores Pino's usual flair for anomalous compositions and arrangements. Except for drummer Jimmy Macbride
, who came on board in 2017, every member of Pino's group has been there from the start, eight years earlier, and that's a nice harbor from which to set sail, as everyone is clearly on the same page and of one mind when it comes to a musical point of view.
The program consists of seven original compositions, five by Pino and one each by alto saxophonist Alex LoRe
("Antiquity") and guitarist Rafal Sarnecki
("Sueno de Gatos"). Guest vocalist Camila Meza
makes it a tentet on "Gatos" and Pino's doleful "Frustrations" (on which he briefly discards the tenor to offer an ardent solo on bass clarinet). There is considerable light and occasional heat elsewhere, especially on the brief finale, "Baseball Simulator 1000," inspired by a vintage Nintendo game and the closest thing to a computer on the otherwise earthy album. "Antiquity," which opens the session, has a dreamlike quality that suits well Pino's amorous tenor, as it does LoRe's expressive alto.
"Horse of a Different Color," which follows, is an up-tempo blues named for the shade-shifting horse in the film The Wizard of Oz
and written by Pino with the Nonet in mind. Before writing, he asked members of the group to name their favorite keys over which to solo, and obliged them by blending their choices into the mix. The soloists are LoRe, Sarnecki, trombonist Nick Finzer
, trumpeter Mat Jodrell
, pianist Glenn Zaleski
and baritone saxophonist Andrew Gutauskas
with the ensemble's astute rhythm section working hard behind them. The mood darkens on "Film at 11," which, according to Pino, traces the progress of a first date, from nervous anticipation to the thrill of a new-found romance. The harmonic colors are strong and seductive, as is Pino's impassioned solo.
Pino's last composition, "Look into My Eyes," is not a love song but a plea from the Arizona-born composer to his fellow New Yorkers to abandon for a moment their ubiquitous smart phones and newspapers and make eye contact with a fellow human. Topic aside, it's a pleasant mid-tempo excursion on which Pino again solos with assurance. That leads to "Frustrations" and "Sueno de Gatos," a rhythmic tour de force on which Pino and Meza shine. Aside from its modest forty-six-minute playing time, a splendid third go-round by the ever-daring No Net Nonet.
Antiquity; Horse of a Different Color; Film at 11; Look into My Eyes; Frustrations; Sueno de Gatos; Baseball Simulator 1000.