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Saxophonist Peter Epstein changes sound and form as needed for the different lives he leads. In one prior life he sits in a cathedral alone, playing for the gods (see this month’s review of Solus ), in another he wears a Downtown existence in Jerry Granelli’s Badlands. Then there’s his Portuguese folk/jazz (see review of Almas), Mid-Eastern music with Brad Shepik, then again his ECM chamber jazz work. His ability to morph makes him all things to most people.
His second recording with his quartet of hip jazz outsiders: bassist Chris Dahlgren, drummer Jim Black and keyboardist, Jamie Saft is an original offering as indefinable as Epstein’s entire oeuvre. The title track offers an eastern feel, Epstein's saxophone acting as a cantor praying, repeating lines. “Creamy Center” is an organ spun blues whirled like some live Weather Report date. Could that be? Jim Black, a dervish of a drummer rocks out, while Saft’s organ plays a blues, but not one conceived by Jimmy Smith. Epstein for most of the album comes from a Wayne Shorter mold (more Weather Report). Then there is “The Leaf’s Impression,” a WR feel, straight from 8:30. Shorter’s presence is strong, the wistful passages and bold compositional presence. Saft copes with Zawinul too. Beautiful. Nobody has walked this road since fusion became a bad word. Like most great albums, there is more here than first perceived. With Peter Epstein, we haven’t begun to uncover what he is all about. More please.
Track List:Good Fever; The Leaf’s Impression; The Invisible; Centrifugal Force; Shut Up, Peaceful; Creamy Center; Ornette’s Advice.
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.