With one well-received album under its belt, composer / tenor saxophonist Lucas Pino
's well-groomed New York City-based No Net Nonet is back for a second go-round, The Answer Is No.
For the benefit of curious souls who wonder what question may have inspired the reply, it is, we are told, Pino's answer "to a world inundating us with constant opinions, ideas, and manufactured narratives" and an "invitation to listeners to unchain themselves from any preconceived expectations, opening them up to infinite possibilities."
Those who are concerned that such an avowal may foreshadow "free jazz" can rest easy. Pino's seven compositions, which comprise the whole of the album, are nothing of the sort. Modern, yes; demanding, yes again. But never disavowing conventional form and structure. Pino's writing has more in common with Charles Mingus
or Bob Brookmeyer
than, say, Anthony Braxton
or Julius Hemphill
. The Nonet's lineup is customary too: trumpet, trombone, three saxophones and rhythm.
Pino makes the most of that, deftly balancing an intimate small-group sound with that of a much larger ensemble. While his themes are multi-textured, making full use of the group dynamic, they leave ample room for solos as well. Trumpeter Mat Jodrell
is first in line on the vibrant opener, "Pick 'Em Up, Turn the Lights Out," before Pino takes charge and leads the way home. Pianist Glenn Zaleski
is heard first on "Take a Walk in the Sky," but it is Pino and alto Alex LoRe
who do much of the heavy lifting on the powerful anthem.
After an opening trumpet / trombone chorale, "The World Ahead" settles into a straight-ahead groove that suits well Pino, Jodrell and trombonist Nick Finzer
. The ethereal "Sea Level" pairs sensitive ensemble work with steady comping by bassist Desmond White
, while the mid-tempo "Sidestep" embodies more assertive tenor from Pino and a congenial guitar solo by Rafat Sarnecki. Baritone Andrew Gutauskas
is superb on the picturesque "Mass-Produced Person," Zaleski and Pino likewise on the fast-moving finale, "I Can't Remember." In sum, an exemplary second outing by Pino's topnotch No Net Nonet.
Pick ‘Em Up, Turn the Lights Out; Take a Walk in the Sky; The World Ahead; Sea Level; Sidestep; Mass-Produced Person; I Can’t Remember.
Lucas Pino: leader, composer, tenor saxophone; Alex LoRe: alto saxophone; Andrew Gutauskas: baritone saxophone; Mat Jodrell: trumpet; Nick Finzer: trombone; Rafat Sarnecki: guitar; Glenn Zaleski: piano; Desmond White: bass; Jimmy Macbride: drums.