Artistic cooperation and cohesion are evident from the first notes of The Relay's eponymous debut. With saxophonist Dan Pratt's "Four for," the composer and pianist Michael Eckroth this quartet's co-leaderssync up with a bright and fragmented melody line which seeds overlapping solos that sprout when bassist Matt Clohesy and drummer Allan Mednard enter the picture. Referencing a collective chemistry in both sound and name, that engaging opener sets the stage for a program that's pure magic.
The eight songs that follow further demonstrate the simpatico relationships which are central to this outfit. With Pratt's blues-based "One Right," Clohesy's minute-long intro segues into a foundational riff, Eckroth's glistening solo stands in contrast to Pratt's heated blowing, and all four parties punch and punctuate as a single entity. Then the pianist's pen takes hold for a spell as the quartet leans into every well-formed bend and curve of "Road Traveled," cedes control to divine providence and surrenders to the call of pure passion during "Spirit Walk," and works with bossa-esque grace with "Lost in Brazil."
Save for a classy and charming trip through "Polka Dots and Moonbeams" which arrives late in the game, originals remain the order of the day for The Relay. Pratt's chipper "Song of Babes" offers a bright slice of life with its samba-like sensibilities and occasional looks into other sunny territories. "Anabell's Ballad" Eckroth's tribute to his wife trades in haunting beauty. And the pianist's "Novo Sete" plays to its name with its odd-metered flow and yearning for new truths. While this is only the beginning for this band, it's clearly the start of something big. Sparks fly on this first flight and there's little doubt that they'll yield fire in The Relay's future.
Four For; One Right; Road Traveled; Spirit Walk; Lost in Brazil; Song of Babes; Polka Dots and Moonbeams; Anabell's
Ballad; Novo Sete.
African Jazz Beyond Jazz Big Band Blues Brazilian Classical Dixieland / New Orleans / Swing Electronica Free Improv / Avant-Garde Fringes of Jazz Funk / Groove Fusion / Progressive Rock Hot Jazz Jam Band Latin Lounge / Exotica Modern Jazz R&B / Soul Straight-ahead (Bop, Hard bop, Cool) Vocal