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Midwest Record on Peter Brendler “Outside the Line”…

PETER BRENDLER/Outside the Line: For a bass player looking to move jazz sounds forward into uncharted territory, “Walk On the Wild side” is a good jumping off point to bring listeners into the tent with something familiar but still outré after 40 years and let them wander the rooms from there. A high octane modern jazz set, Brandler and crew play as one even when heading off in different directions. The set lives up to the title, and progressive and fearless ears will be well rewarded by a rising, improvising jazzbo that just doesn’t take no for an answer. Well done.

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All About Jazz goes “Outside the Line” with Peter Brendler…

Peter Brendler: Outside The Line (2014)


Published: April 24, 2014

Thirteen years after graduating from Berklee and over a decade into his career as a professional bassist, Peter Brendler has taken the plunge and released his first album as leader, Outside The Line. Look before you leap, as they say. Wise advice, if the quality of this debut is anything to go by.

Brendler has already shown himself to be a bassist with a wide stylistic and dynamic range—powerful and hard-driving onJon Irabagon‘s wild and wacky Foxy (Hot Cup Records, 2010), in company with veteran drummerBarry Altschul; gentle and mellow alongside guitarist John Abercrombie on The Angle Below(Steeplechase Records, 2013). His playing on Outside The Line provides further evidence for his adaptability. His sound is characteristically bouncy and fat, but capable of subtle changes, twists and turns—drummer Vinnie Sperrazza‘s lighter touch contrasts well with Brendler’s tone.

Three disparate cover versions adorn Outside The Line. The band kicks things off with a punchy take on Chet Baker‘s “Freeway,” Peter Evans‘ muted trumpet flying over Brendler and Sperrazza’s driving rhythm. Ornette Coleman‘s “Una Muy Bonita” is altogether gentler than the composer’s version from Change Of The Century (Atlantic, 1959)—thanks especially to Rich Perry‘s tenor sax. Perry starts out by sharing bass duties with Brendler on Lou Reed‘s “Walk On The Wild Side,” helping out with Herbie Flowers‘ iconic lines while Evans takes on the melody, then takes off with a solo of his own. Sperrazza shares credit with Brendler for building the song’s laid-back groove.

Brendler’s own compositions cover stylistic ground from bebop to free jazz to pre-bop romance. “The Golden Ring” shares something of the rhythmic slinkiness of “Walk On The Wild Side”; “Blanket Statement” mixes Coleman-ish sections with hints of Latin grooves; “Openhanded” moves more completely into free territory. “Drop The Mittens” mixes things up—a rock-solid rhythm underpins Evans and Perry’s extended solos, Brendler’s own fluid solo stands alone. “The Darkness” could have come straight from a ’40s crime caper soundtrack—bass, drums, tenor and trumpet all hinting at the heist or the hit to come. “Blackout Reunion” also harks back to the ’40s, a soundtrack to a film noir affair—but before things get too down, “Pharmacology” kicks in and feet are a-tappin.’

Exactly what line Brendler and his chums are outside isn’t totally clear. A quote from legendary American Football coach Bill Parcells adorns the album sleeve—about men with odd-shaped balls—and may suggest a sporting metaphor, who knows. What’s clear is that Outside The Lineconfirms Brendler’s reputation as a commanding bassist. It also establishes his credentials as a band leader—hopefully this is a quartet with staying power—and as a composer with a sense of stylistic adventure and an ear for a decent tune. The world really can’t get enough of those.

Track Listing: Freeway; Blackout Reunion; Pharmacology; Lawn Darts; Walk On The Wild Side; Blanket Statement; Una Muy Bonita; Openhanded; Drop The Mittens; Indelible Mark; The Darkness; The Golden Ring.

Personnel: Peter Brendler: double bass; Peter Evans: trumpet, piccolo trumpet; Rich Perry: tenor saxophone; Vinnie Sperrazza: drums.

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SomethingElse Reviews “Outside the Line”…

I first encountered the savvy of Peter Brendler’s bass when sizing up Jon Irabagon’s wild, seventy-eight minute improvisation ride, Foxy (2010). As the guy placed in between Irabagon’s sax and Barry Altschul’s drums, they wouldn’t have been able to pull this off if not for Brendler’s heroics keeping the tune firmly centered while the other two took endless excursions outside of it.

Brendler’s got a lot of other noteworthy sideman appearances (including an album co-led with guitar legend John Abercrombie just last year), but not nearly enough as the sole leader, because his debut Outside the Line(April 15, 2104, Posi-Tone Records) brings forward the daring and elasticity found in much of his session work. That, and some imaginative composing/interpretations to boot.

For his first album, the bassist goes without a piano, guitar or any other chordal instrument, creating more space that his bass can occupy. He’s put a tenor sax (Rich Perry) and trumpet (Peter Evans) in front of him and Vinnie Sperrazza’s drums alongside his acoustic bass.

Outside the Line implies “outside jazz,” but aside from the relatively brief free jazz exercise “Openhanded,” the album doesn’t explicitly venture into the abyss for more than a segment within a song (such as, the fantastic, well-attuned four-way improvisation found on “Indelible Mark”). This isn’t to state that there aren’t chances being taken all over the LP, because there’s plenty of that going on.


It gets going right away with a succinct, impish rendering of Chet Baker’s “Freeway.” Evans is on a muted trumpet playing a high-pitched contrast to Perry’s tenor. Both seem to be keenly aware that they have a short time to make an impression and make the most of it, with great back and forth between the two. Brendler’s got the underlying harmony locked down so well you don’t even notice the missing piano, and that’s how it goes for the rest of the record.

Brendler’s original “Lawn Darts” is in the classic style bop theme but it wobbles and yet never falls down. The rhythm section vacillates effortlessly between blues walk and swing, giving the horns a shifting platform to operate on, and they respond vigorously to the challenge. Brendler often comes up with bass figures that set the groundwork for the development of a song, and “Drop The Mittens” is one a tune built on his funky repeating figure. Sperrazza’s rhythm is festive even as the song is in a dark key. Well into the performance, Brendler unexpectedly switches over to a new figure to signal the changing of the soloing duties from Perry to Evans and the song slows down for a coda composed of yet another motif.

“Una Mas Bonita” is an Ornette Coleman cover that Brendler introduces on his own, setting down the guideposts for the horn players. Just as Evans takes over for Perry, the song is off to the races and the trumpeters tears off lightning fast runs until the song returns its unhurried pace. Lou Reed’s “Walk On The Wild Side” has that iconic blues vamp that is so jazzy, it makes you wonder why this song isn’t covered more by the jazz community. Evans undertakes a vulnerable lyrical lead, and Perry harmonizes with Brendler until it’s time for him to play his more soulful solo.

By at once going inside and outside, as well as respecting tradition and racing toward the frontier, Peter Brendler makes his long overdue first album well worth waiting for.


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Another write-up for Peter Brendler “Outside the Line”…

Peter Brendler, Outside the Line: Nice modern set from bassist Brendler, who brings a strong quartet to the table with drummer Vinnie Sperrazza, trumpeter Peter Evans, and saxophonist Rich Perry. A post-bop album that allows its seams to become frayed and its joints loosened, creating shifts in sound to something freer and untamed… makes for some nice marks of contrast without having to strain album cohesion. Also, a supremely enjoyable rendition of Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side.” Always nice to see Peter Evans sitting in on an album… one of those names that pretty much guarantees that a recording is going to sound at least a little bit different than others situated in similar territory.


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Step Tempest goes positively Posi-Tone again…

Positively Posi-Tone (Part 2)

Bassist Peter Brendler, a native of Baltimore, Maryland, graduated from the Berklee School of Music and then went on to the Master’s Program at the Manhattan School of Music. He’s worked with pianist Frank Kimbrough, drummer Barry Altshul, and saxophonist Jon Irabagon (who recorded his “Foxy” CD with Altshul and Brendler) and his debut as a co-leader was a 2013 date with guitarist John Abercrombie.

Outside The Line” is the first CD under his name only and is a “smoker” from the get-go.  Featuring Rich Perry (tenor saxophone),Peter Evans (trumpet, piccolo trumpet) and Vinnie Sperrazza(drums), the quartet rambles, rumbles, “splats”, sputters, wails, struts and strolls through a 12-song program that features 9 originals and 3 inspired covers.

On the “covers” side, the program starts with the band speeding through Chet Baker’s “Freeway“, a hard-bop romp that features Sperrazza’s “dazzle-dazzle” brushwork, Evans’ inspired piccolo trumpet work and Perry’s bluesy sax work.  There’s a funky recreation of Lou Reed’s “Walk On the Wild Side“, complete with Perry and Evans taking the part of the “doot-da-doot-da-doot” chorus. Sperrazza’s inspired brush work and the leader’s full-toned bass notes give the soloists plenty of support.  The final cover is an inspired reading of Ornette Coleman’s “Una Muy Bonita” which opens with a fine bass solo that slowly eases into the recognizable melody (the foursome does an excellent job of shifting the tempo throughout).


Several of Brendler’s originals hew close to the Coleman Atlantic Records Quartet sound, such as the hard-driving “Lawn Darts” (it’s a treat listening to how the bass and drums work together and independently to move this music forward).  In another direction, “Pharmacology” is a bopping blues track with a melody line that could have been played by the Clifford Brown-Max Roach Quintet.  Evans and Sperrazza goose each other along during the trumpet solo and then the drummer trades “4’s” with the bassist. There’s a noisy quality to the rapid give-and-take of Perry and Evans on “Openhanded” while “The Darkness” mines the blues in the musicians’ veins.  The trumpet solo pushes against the medium-tempo stroll the bass create while the tenor saxophone joins in on the stroll.  The drone created by the bowed bass, trumpet and saxophone to one “Indelible Mark” induces shivers but also displays Brendler’s splendid technique. He’s the “lead” voice for the opening 1/3rd of the track.  Evans and Perry, though they come from different musical genres (the saxophonist has worked with the Maria Schneider Orchestra while the trumpeter is a mainstay in Mostly Other People Do The Killing), work extremely well together. The CD closes with “The Golden Ring“, a series of ferocious interactions among the quartet. Sperrazza’s drumming is inspired throughout, he and Brendler often function like lead instruments with their own thematic material.

One could call “Outside The Line” “free jazz” but the music is so much more.  The musicians provoke, challenge and complement each other, giving the listener much to chew on.  Peter Brendler has created quite the gem of a CD – I’d put his release right alongside Eric Revis’s smashing new CD “In Memory of Things Yet Seen” as 2 of the best recordings by a bassist of the past several years.  To find out more, go

Drummer Steve Fidyk, the son of a drummer, is, perhaps, best known for his work with big bands (although he has also recorded contemporary Jewish music with Robyn Helzner and played with numerous Symphony orchestras). Meeting drummer/educator Joe Morello (Dave Brubeck Quartet) changed Fidyk’s life as his mentor helped not only how to play but also how to be a better teacher.

Heads Up!” is his debut as a leader and it’s a solid effort. Engineer Michael Marciano (of Systems Two in Brooklyn, NY) does a great job of capturing Fidyk’s excellent brush work.  The quintet for this date features Terell Stafford (trumpet, flugelhorn) Tim Warfield (tenor sax) and rhythm section from the Armed Services, bassist Regan Brough (from the U.S. Army Blues) and guitarist Shawn Purcell (the United States Naval Academy Band).  The 9 cuts include original songs by the leader, such as the energetic opening track “Untimely“, the extremely funky “The Flip Flopper” and the sweet ballad feature for Stafford’s flugelhorn “T.T.J“.  Purcell is an excellent foil for the front line, never intrusive, always supportive.  His work is often subtle, playing quiet chordal patterns behind the soloists; yet, he can cut loose as well, shredding his way through “The Flip Flopper.” His piece for trio, “Might This Be-Bop“, features strong solos from him, bassist Brough and Fidyk.   Stafford is such a great player, whether soaring over the changes as he does on Fidyk’s “The Bender” or playing muted and mellow on the rearrangement of Jules Styne’s “Make Someone Happy.”  He returns to flugelhorn on the slow take on Johnny Nash’s reggae hit “I Can See Clearly Now“, helping to create a big city, late night vibe.  Warfield’s bluesy tenor is heard to great effect on several tracks, including Hank Mobley-like turns on Purcell’s “Last Nerve” and the hard bop cum disco take on Cole Porter’s “Love For Sale.”

Steve Fidyk sounds like he’s having a great time on “Heads Up!”  He keeps the tunes motoring along without intruding while pushing the soloists to greater heights on several occasions.  Posi-Tone Records, like Criss Cross Records, is a label that is often billed as a home for mainstream jazz. In actuality, both labels and their respective producers (Marc Free and Gerry Teekens), like to mix things up.  Yet, “Heads Up!” (which features Criss Cross artist Tim Warfield – he has 7 releases on the Netherlands-based label) is “straight-ahead” and gloriously so.  For more information, go to


For his 5th Posi-Tone release, tenor saxophonist Doug Webbhas organized a new group of East Coast musicians (3 of his previous 4 previous CDs featured the rhythm section of drummer Gerry Gibbs and bassist Stanley Clarke) – recorded in February 2013, “Another Scene” features the late bassistDwayne Burno (who passed in late December of last year), pianist Peter Zak and the most impressive Rudy Royston (drums).  The change of scenery has energized Webb who picks up on the power of Royston’s drumming and Burno’s muscular bass lines and delivers a strong performance.  That’s not to say this is all fire and no sweetness. There are several fine ballads including Dave Brubeck’s “Southern Scene“, Vernon Duke’s “What Is There to Say” and Benny Carter’s “Only Trust Your Heart” (a duo for saxophone and piano).

However, chances are good you’ll remember the fiery saxophone and drums exchange that makes up “Rhythm With Rudy” and the hard-driving opening 2 tracks, “Mr. Milo” and “One for Art” (dedicated to Webb’s former bassist, the late Dr. Art Davis).   “Another Step” is Webb’s take on John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps“, with the saxophonist lying over the powerful piano chords and hard-charging rhythm section. Later in the program, Webb’s “Verdi Variations” also has a Coltrane feel in the piano chords, the rubato work of Burno and Royston plus the feverish tenor of the leader. In a clever programming turn, the following track is Thad Jones’ “Bird Song”  which features a sweet solo from the leader and a rocking bass statement from Burno.

Another Scene” is, in my opinion, most complete recording I have heard from Doug Webb. His earlier CDs all had their moments but this one has many more.  Could be the great rhythm section, could be that Webb liked the change of scene, could just be his continuing maturity as a performer.  Whatever was in the air on the February day worked its magic on this session.  For more information, go

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A nice review for Peter Brendler “Outside the Line”…

Peter Brendler Outside The Line Posi-Tone 2014

Outside the Line
The most under rated bassist in improvisational music…
Brent Black /
Peter Brendler is no newbie. Peter Brendler is a critically acclaimed bassist held in high esteem by his contemporaries but he does find himself in an overly crowded field in the jazz mecca of the world thus he probably doesn’t grab the more global ink he so richly deserves. Outside The Lines is a chord less quartet comprised of some forward thinking visionaries that are obviously on the same harmonic page as Brendler. The sound is fresh, open and with a vibrant raw edge of improvisational that pushes both Peter and the band to a more creative level of expression that with most 4tets.
This is not necessarily unfamiliar harmonic territory as it as been done before, it just hasn’t been done this well in about thirty years or more. Two of the three covers can or should immediately grab the attention of most listeners. The late Lou Reed classic “Walk On The Wild Side” is part of the Holy Grail of rock and roll and Brendler’s reharm is nothing short of spectacular. Peter Evans turns in some magnificent solo work while Brendler assumes the subtle soul pumpkin anchor that blows the dust off a timeless classic and turns the tune into something far more special than simply a “cover.” The Ornette Coleman tune “Una Muy Bonita” is deconstructed to a more organic rhythmic groove with a syncopated synergy of lyrical swing. Tenor saxophonist Rich Perry and rising star drummer Vinnie Sperrazza engage in their own melodic conversation which slowly morphs into a smoldering exploratory of rhythm and groove.
Peter Brendler seems to have found a new sense of swing. An open ended improvisational exploratory with a meticulously laid out groove that is the perfect bridge between the more traditional straight ahead sound and the more experimental sound commonly associated with the some disingenuous term “free jazz.” Outside The Line is an apt title for a release where expect the unexpected might be the perfect subtitle. Sophisticated, adventurous yet wildly accessible finds Peter Brendler’s coming out party with his Posi-Tone debut a resounding success!


Tracks: Freeway; Blackout Reunion; Pharmacology; Lawn Darts; Walk On The Wild Side; Blanket Statement; Una Moy Bonita; Openhanded; Drop The Mittens; Indelible Mark; The Darkness; The Golden Ring.
Personnel: Rich Perry: Tenor Saxophone; Peter Evans: Trumpet and Piccolo Trumpet; Peter Brendler: Bass; Vinnie Sperrazza: Drums.