It’s no secret that as a listener and review, I’m drawn to the work of the rhythm section. Not that I don’t appreciate a great saxophonist or guitarist but it’s the response and the interaction with the people keeping the flow going that often catches my ears first.
“Message In Motion” is bassist and composer Peter Brendler‘s second release for Posi-Tone Records (my review of the debut is here); happily, the album features the same ensemble as the first including Rich Perry (tenor saxophone), Peter Evans (trumpet) and Vinnie Sperrazza (drums). Guitarist Ben Monder joins the band on four of the 10 tracks. One of the more arresting attributes of the debut was how “open” and exploratory the music was and that carries over to this recording as well. The program starts out with a good “blues shuffle”, the front line playing a sweet theme that leads into Evans’ circular solo and into Perry’s romp while the rhythm section keeps the motor running (though pay attention to how Brendler switches for “walking lines” to playing counterpoint. The playfulness of the bassist’s infectiousness “Angelica” and it’s a Sonny Rollins-like romp that features smart interactions between the bassist and Sperrazza. You can feel the spirit of playfulness on the swinging “Very Light And Very Sweet” and also on the Clifford Brown-like feel on “Didn’t Do Nothing.” While Brendler and Sperrazza “dance” around underneath, Perry and Evans build sparkling solos on both tracks.
The other “non-original” on the album is a playful rendition of Alice Coltrane’s “Ptah the El Daoud” – Sperrazza’s marching drums and Brendler’s “oom-pah” bass lines accompany the front line as they read through the theme. The piece opens up in subtle ways as the bass expands on its rhythmic approach and the drums interacts with Perry on his expansive explorations. Evans goes “out” a little further with a series of spurts and sputters in the midst of his while the rhythm section continues to push forward. The blend of traditional rhythms and exploratory, even noisy, solos is a highlight of the recording.
Come to “Message In Motion” with open ears and open mind; you will not be disappointed. The music that Peter Brendler creates with Rich Perry, Peter Evans, Vinnie Sperrazza, and Ben Monder is lively, thoughtful, playful, exciting, and smart. This fine album makes one wish to see and hear this group live.
Richard B. Kamins – Step Tempest