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Sketches: Volume 2

Dan Bilawsky By

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Same musicians, same winning concept, great new songs: that's what awaits on the second volume of music from the quintet collective known as Sketches.

This Brooklyn-based outfit works a unique angle with its own brand of cross-pollinated composition, whereby one musician brings in a tidbit of music that serves as the seed for a piece from the pen of another band member. It's a form of collaborative writing that allows both parties to work alone together.

To some, the band and its concept may smack of gimmickry, but those thoughts belong with the pure cynics, not the open ears. The music speaks for itself, and boy, does it ever speak. The album opens on a brilliant odd-metered construct ushered in with hypnotic piano, carried further along with strong grooves and individual statements ("Caught In The Storm"). From that point on, it's simply a world open to possibility. Slow-and-deep backbeat-driven winners burrow into the mind ("Bibi"); relatively mellow scenarios with swing-ish underpinnings surface ("Sirenia"); dark avenues—places fraught with uncertainty, populated and driven by angst and rebellion—are explored to the fullest ("Rub"); curious music with a tribal bent takes hold ("Dyson Ritual"); and a hopeful goodbye sends everybody on their way ("Calm After The Storm").

While the compositions and the concept driving them deserve a good deal of praise and attention, it's ultimately the personalities at play that bring the music to life. Pianist Jarrett Cherner's diverse talents are on full display as he alternately engages in rhythmic tiling, mixes it up with his band mates, and solos on top of things; trumpeter Matt Holman and saxophonist Jeremy Udden brilliantly balance moods, working plaintive, lyrical, and frantic strains into the music; drummer Ziv Ravitz is equal parts beat-keeper and colorist; and bassist Martin Nevins' wide beat, thick sound, and soulful baring bring heart to this music.

In an era where one-off projects, here-and-gone groups, and ad hoc assemblages seem all-too-common, it's nice to see a band built around a unique idea that's willing to go for the long haul and develop over time. So far, it's paying off big time for Sketches.

Track Listing: Caught In The Storm; Bibi; Sirenia; Hybrid Cars; Y&H; Wrong Place, Wrong Time; Hail From Plainville; Rub; Dyson Ritual; Not Wrong; Calm After The Storm.

Personnel: Matt Holman: trumpet, flugelhorn; Jeremy Udden: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone; Jarrett Cherner: piano; Martin Nevins: bass; Ziv Ravitz: drums.

Title: Volume 2 | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records

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