Maybe it's a case of false humility, or a stab at irony, but guitarist Dan Pitt seems to prefer self-deprecating album titles. The Toronto-based musician's 2019 trio release, Fundamentally Flawed (Self-Produced), featured bassist Alex Fournier and drummer Nick Fraser, and his current offering, Wrongs, adds saxophonists Naomi McCarroll-Butler and Patrick Smith to the mix. For an artist who actually gets it right most of the time, these releases could have been more accurately named. But we can forgive him that, perhaps, since the music he creates is well worth investigating and enjoying.
Pitt has another previous album to his credit, 2020's solo effort Monochrome (Self-Produced), and like the others its name is highly misleading: monochromatic is not the word for Pitt's wide-ranging creativity. Pitt has a penchant for gentle lyricism, but he also likes to rock out; and while he's open to abstract exploration he can also revel in a robust groove. All these disparate tendencies are present on Wrongs, and while this fissiparous aspect does weaken the album's cohesion a bit, it certainly points to a relentlessly imaginative musical mind at work.
All seven of the album's compositions are Pitt's, and whether it's the ominous specters of "Shadows Loom" or the hopefully buoyant "Change is Imminent," his role is always strong in the mix, even though it isn't showcased at the expense of his colleagues. Indeed, the most memorable tracks are those that make ample use of the horns. Witness the sinuous lines that McCarroll-Butler and Smith unfurl on the opener, "Two Part," with Smith's powerful tenor merging nicely with McCarroll-Butler's tart alto. Their punchy harmonies on the album's hard-driving title track are especially energizing. Elsewhere the two change things up, as on the darkly-hued "Hunter's Dream," where Smith's soprano sax and McCarroll-Butler's bass clarinet enter after a forlorn arco opening from Fournier. Pitt's ability to write for these diverse instrumental textures is noteworthy, and it lends a distinctive character to each piece.
Pitt generates plenty of ideas even as a solo instrumentalist or in the trio format, but it's clear that the larger palette on display here serves his compositional aims especially well. It will be exciting to encounter future work from this dynamic group.
Two Part; BroOke; Shadows Loom; Hunter’s Dream; What Is; Wrongs; Change is Imminent.
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