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Tom Wetmore: The Desired Effect

Dan Bilawsky By

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A wide gulf often separates a composer's intent in the creation of his/her work and a listener's interpretation upon hearing it. While musicians try to capture or convey a certain sound, mood, spirit or energy in their recorded work, they can't control the environment and circumstances surrounding a consumer's exposure to it, and pianist Tom Wetmore seems to understand this better than most. Wetmore's self-penned liner notes shrewdly allude to this issue and, rather than spell out what he's trying to do, he simply presents his music, allowing the listener to bathe in his art and take what they want from the experience.

While no two people will hear this—or any album—the same way, calling this a nine-song program of hard-to-categorize songs delivered by a tight, yet flexible, plugged-in ensemble leaves little room for argument. The two guitars-plus-saxophone(s) frontline may conjure thoughts of recently deceased drummer Paul Motian's Electric Bebop Band, but bears little resemblance to that outfit; Wetmore doesn't cover Thelonious Monk or Bud Powell, and his music is never encased in an ethereal rhythmic cocoon. His world is built atop electric piano, which never entered the equation in Motian's group, and his songs occasionally eschew metric consistency, while exhibiting funky filigree. Vamping patterns put the music in a holding pattern in some places, and threaten to bring monotony into view, but the layers and textures spread out around these vamps help keep things interesting.

The band creates a sonic template early on and basically sticks to it for the entire album, but no two pieces sound the same. "Good And Plenty" is a powerful number that highlights the chemistry between guitarists Brad Williams and Justin Sabaj, the understated "Wild Card" gives pause to admire the leader's unobstructed electric piano, and Eric Neveloff paints a bleak picture with his alto saxophone on the album-closing "More Matter."

The Desired Effect is a debut brimming with bold statements, labyrinthine constructs and strong rhythmic undercurrents, marking Wetmore as one to watch out for in the future.

Track Listing: Red Lights; Wild Card; Good and Plenty; A Blessing; The Desired Effect; With Woven Wings; Falling; The Rub; More Matter.

Personnel: Tom Wetmore: electric piano; Jaleel Shaw: alto saxophone (1, 2, 4); Eric Nelveloff: alto sax (3, 5-9), tenor saxophone (4); Justin Sabaj: guitar; Brad Williams: guitar; Michael League: bass; Garrett Brown: drums.

Title: The Desired Effect | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Crosstown Records

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