Michael Pedicin, like many a tenor saxophonist, bows at the altar of John Coltrane
. Pedicin's work in the past has frequently referenced that iconic figure through theme, spirit, sound and/or song selection, and he continues along a similar path on Why Stop Now/Ubuntu
For his twelfth outing as a leader, Pedicin crafted a program that speaks in different musical tongues but aims to deliver a single message. Ubuntu, as a term and philosophy, is all about humanity, peace, kindness and compassion; these are the qualities that Pedicin aimed to tap into during these performances.
Funk, free-roaming thoughts, probing proclamations, peaceful notions and more mix and mingle here. Pedicin uses his working quintet to flesh out his ideas, and everybody involved seems comfortable living in each one of those stylistic skins. The album opens with "Why Stop Now," a number that starts and ends with some drive and eases into a more comfortable swing feeling in between. Next on the program is Coltrane's "Tunji," which serves as a study in solo contrasts. Pedicin taps into the spiritual intensity of the composer's work, pianist Rick Germanson
takes a more straightforward-and-bluesy path, and bassist Andy Lalasis
brings a mellower quality to the fore during his searching solo.
As each number finishes, something fresh and different tends to come along. "Downtown Found" finds Pedicin and company in exploratory mode, "Then I Saw You" spotlights the sensitive musical relationship between Pedicin and his frequent collaborator, guitarist Johnnie Valentino
, and "Trane Stop" is a (post)modern piece with rhythmic contrast; drummer Vic Stevens
shifts back and forth between a driving groove and a variant on the Purdie shuffle on that last number. "27 Up" isn't a Coltrane tune, but it sounds just like one, and "Newtown" is a peaceful threnody for the victims of that town's horrific school shooting.
The album closes with a funky re-write of Coltrane's "Song Of The Underground Railroad" followed by a contemplative solo saxophone improvisation that's, appropriately enough, called "Ubuntu." Pedicin ultimately finds his way here by following a number of paths that all lead to one place: hope.
Why Stop Now; Tunji; Downtown Found; Then I Saw You; Trane Stop; 27 Up; Newtown; Song Of The Underground Railroad; Ubuntu
Michael Pedicin: tenor saxophone; Johnnie Valentino: guitar; Andy Lalasis: acoustic bass; Rick Germanson: piano, Fender Rhodes (3, 4, 8); Vic Stevens: drums.