Colorado native Jeff Pearring began studying the alto saxophone at the age of ten but pursued a career in economics before turning back to music. With a broad range of experiences that encompassed symphonic bands, ska and reggae, it was Pearring's affinity for jazz that guided him upon arriving in New York. Pearring studied with Connie Crothers
, one of the great, but under-recognized jazz pianists of the past generation. Crothers passed in 2016 but not before inspiring Pearring to pursue his own musical path. His "group"Pearring Soundis actually a fluid assembly of players in trios, double-trio, quartet, and quintet. On Pearring Sound's second album True Story
, the leader is in impressive company.
The quartet assembled for this live (sans audience) 2015 recording, includes an imposing collective of virtuosos. This is, one would assume, one of the last recordings made by Crothers though her playing is full of energy and fire that belie her failing health. Bassist Ken Filiano
has played and recorded with preeminent free jazz and avant-garde artists including Bill Dixon
, Anthony Braxton
, Nate Wooley
, Dennis Gonzalez
and Roswell Rudd
. He has twice recorded with Crothers on Connie Crothers Quartet + Mark Weber: Live at the Stone
(New Artists Records, 2010) and Band of Fire
(2011) on the same label. Italian percussionist and composer Carlo Costa
has been working out of New York for more than ten years, creating improvised and experimental music for large ensembles and smaller groups. He too has worked with Carothers as well as Nate Wooley, Steve Swell
, Tony Malaby
, Denman Maroney
and Daniel Carter
The symbiotic relationship between the alto and piano are evident from the outset, a three-part suite titled "Round Dance (Gathering), (Blue Foot Hop), (Dis Band)." Building in structure that opens with Pearring's fissured melody, Filiano bridges parts one and three, where Crothers individuality comes into sharp relief as part of a complex exchange with the saxophone. "Winter's Edge" is more portentous in tone, Filiano's bowed bass enhancing the mood only to be broken by the unrestrained "Who We R." "Everyday" is a surprising treat as the controlled free-for-all opening gives way to the blues. For all its apparent freedom "Spring Thunder," the album's closing piece, does an excellent job of approximating the conditions of its title.
Pearring Sound creates spontaneously but with interactions that generate lively narratives that provide focus to the wide open playing. Costa's contribution is pivotal as he subtly holds the construction together with plenty of latitude for improvising andwhen warrantedan outright relinquishment of control. This iteration of Pearring Sound is not to be again but it is a stellar achievement in creative music that will age well.
Round Dance, Pt. 1 (Gathering); Round Dance Pt. 2 (Blue Foot Hop); Round Dance Pt.3 (Dis Band); Winter’s Edge; Everyday; Yard; Who We R; Melody3727944; And the Deep Blue Sea; CCKFJP; Spring Thunder.
Jeff Pearring: alto saxophone; Connie Crothers: piano; Ken Filiano: acoustic bass, effects; Carlo Costa: drums.