Brooke Sofferman’s sextet makes this sequel to his Modesty’s Odyssey smoke from start to finish. Using the same personnel and adding a few key players, drummer Sofferman has created another outstanding album. Once again, his compositions serve as the basis for intriguing improvisation. A variety of textures from the drum set color each selection. Jerry Bergonzi, Phil Grenadier and Jacques Chanier add significant charm. No smooth jazz here. Sofferman elevates the art of jazz and carries on the tradition. Based in and around Boston, the drummer/composer holds degrees in jazz performance from the New England Conservatory of Music.
Sofferman uses different instrumentations to express the program’s selections. “Mt. Desert Isle” turns out intimate and sensual, as it’s presented by a cohesive piano trio. “Phlegm & Yawn” places the entire sextet in a position to face the day, with its powerful, driving cadence and roiling jazz breezes. Storming with a confident air, Sofferman’s ensemble whips up a refreshing surprise. Abby Aronson’s wordless vocals add an interesting quality. They’re on target, musically, and yet, as free as a bird. It takes a looseness like that to find the difference between swinging improvisation and lesser attempts. Her treatment of the lyrics to “So It Began” provides a deep look at the song’s contextual meaning, but it’s Aronson's role as wordless vocal participant that makes the largest impact. Her voice is transformed into an additional instrument for the stellar ensemble.
Sofferman’s session swings with a genuine spirit. The hook is his creative use of odd meters. Highly recommended, this one goes right to the top of this year’s Top Ten list.
Track Listing: The Green Between; Mt. Desert Isle; Sunbird; Cement Truck Blues; Phlegm & Yawn; Zoe Moon; Crownestula; Across the Crebix; Cut it Back to Half, Jack; So It Began; Barefoot.
Personnel: Brooke Sofferman- drums, added percussion on
I was first exposed to jazz while working overseas in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I would listen to the Voice of America on the radio and they had a nightly jazz program on at 10:00pm. I learned a lot about jazz listening to this program. I also had a friend who listened to real jazz by artists like Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Archie Shepp. On my way home from Africa I landed in New York and had the opportunity to see the George Adams/Don Pullen quartet at the Village Vanguard as well as Kenny Barron and Ron Carter at another club, and was in heaven.