- Tale of Two Monk Keys
- Almost April
- Spare Parts
- Prelude - Bassprint
- Eyes for Shorter
- Thus and So
- One False Move
Geoff Bradfield (saxophones); Scott Hesse (guitar); Marlene Rosenberg (bass); Makaya McCraven (drums)
Recorded at Soundmine Studios, Chicago, August 17 & 18, 2011 [66:49]
Based in Chicago, Marlene Rosenberg has played some significant names in the jazz scene, but there has been a decade-long lacuna since her last record as a leader. The bassist has constructed a programme heavy on originals - the exceptions are two pieces by someone she especially admires, pianist Kenny Barron. With her quartet she pitches in and delivers over an hour's worth of diverting musicianship.
The ethos moves from the swinging bop of the opener with an especially spunky series of solos, to Latino, which is graced by active percussion and punchy fluent tenor (Geoff Bradfield on solid form on both soprano and tenor). Rosenberg plays acoustic bass, and when she plays arco, as she does at the start of Wayne-ish she extracts a deep rich sound, qualities she exploits in some of these pieces when contrasting the lower range with, as here, the upper range of the soprano's register; thus timbral variety is ensured, a top to bottom spread of sound that expands the vertical and horizontal possibilities of the group in a most satisfactory way. Try also, for instance, the teaky sonorities generated in the soprano and bass shadowing lines of Sunshower.
It can be a busy quartet; Spare Parts is just that, a really active number with bluesy tenor licks and busy work behind it. McCraven is a particularly active drummer, cajoling and kicking throughout Thus and So to an extent I find excessive. Consistently more interesting is Hesse, whose comping is a joy, and whose runs are invariably intriguing. He can be a changeable stylist, and his metier is an elliptical one - something I appreciate amidst what I have to identify as the band's occasional weakness, which is a reluctance collectively to take things off the pedal.
Otherwise for those intrigued by the foursome, there are plenty of good things on offer.