1. Shape Shifter
2. The Alchemist
3. Without a Trace
4. The Soulful Mr Williams
5. Pedacinho do Brasil
6. New Bamboo
7. 3 'n' 2
9. Last Call
Scott Reeves - Alto flugelhorn, alto valve trombone
Rich Perry - Tenor sax
Jim Ridl - Piano
Mike McGuirk - Bass
Andy Watson - Drums
Scott Reerves is a new name to me, although he has
apparently played with such people as Chico O'Farrill, Dave Liebman,
Oliver Lake, Anthony Braxton and John Patitucci. If those names
suggest an eclectic approach to jazz, that is precisely what you
get on this CD, recorded in March 2008 at Cecil's Jazz Club - drummer
Cecil Brooks III's club in New Jersey.
All the compositions are by Scott Reeves and this
is the sort of album that may take you a while to get into. The
tunes are interesting but not necessarily catchy at first hearing,
and the solos mix straightforward swing with fairly way-out freedom.
The appropriately-named title-track is typical of the way that the
music changes shape in the course of one number. In fact Shape
Shifter is based on a 12-tone row, with unexpected fluctuations
in tempo. Drummer Andy Watson discreetly fills gaps.
The music may appear daunting at first, but close
listening repays the effort, particularly with the unusual combination
of front-line instruments. Scott Reeves usually plays the trombone
but here he uses the alto flugelhorn for seven numbers and alto
valve trombone for the others (the latter, designed by Reeves, is
"a standard valve trombone with one-third of the tubing cut
off"). These instruments blend well with Rich Perry's tenor
The Alchemist also changes tempo at times
but it is basically an accessible swinger. Here and elsewhere, pianist
Jim Ridl contributes interesting solo work. Other notable tracks
include Pedacinho do Brasil, a Latin-American piece which,
according to the sleeve-notes, was inspired by Hermeto Pascoal.
And Incandescence wanders thoughtfully at a ruminative tempo,
contrasting with the final Last Call, which might be a Charles
Mingus composition in its hints of a disciplined yet wayward imagination.
A recent TV documentary about string quartets made
the point that such ensembles can be unified groups which nevertheless
allow the individual personalities of the players to be expressed.
The same might be said of this quintet, where five skilful jazz
musicians work in harmony while retaining their individuality. This
is an album for listeners who like a challenge.