It’s Not That Far
I Thought You Had Gone
The Way You Look Tonight
Jonathan Ball (tenor saxophone): Matthew Finck (guitar); Randy Brecker (trumpet; tracks 2, 5 and 7 only): Jay Anderson (bass): Adam Nussbaum (drums)
Recorded August 2012, Mountain Rest Studio, NYC
This is a really tight band. The tenor sax of Jonathan Ball is joined on three tracks by Randy Brecker, no less, to form a solid two-man front-line,
working over the rhythm section of co-leader and guitarist Matthew Finck, fine bassist Jay Anderson and outstanding drummer Adam Nussbaum. The nine tracks
fully support the idea that this is a terrific ensemble.
Finck, as often noted, reminds one a little of Tal Farlow.
His taut lines include blues licks in support of Ball’s bop tangents.
The ethos turns Blue Note at points throughout this set - Gentle
Soul is perhaps the most obvious conduit for this Hard Bop ethos
– where a soul groove, once established, proves hard to extinguish.
Nussbaum’s rhythmic patterns are both challenging and galvanizing.
The group takes a thoughtful look at metres, textures sand colour
on Levin’s Impression whereas there’s some grit in their
collective souls on Conundrum, where Ball’s playing is taut
and directional and Finck’s more roughed up than usual. Apart from
the fade-out – of which I’m not a fan – I liked the slow lope of East
86 th and this contrasts with the altogether
funkier groove of Geppetto. Here Ball’s tenor turns positively
corrosive and Brecker plays with time, and with trills to boot, in
a highly diverting way. The only standard in this set is The Way
You Look Tonight which receives, appropriately, an altogether
lyrical reading with Ball in rhapsodic form. The finale, Get Up!
demands that action, given the work’s a funky swinger – but it’s all
over in about four minutes. It could have gone on a lot longer.
Apart from that one song already cited, everything else is penned by the co-leaders – four pieces each. Let me just reprise my opening; this is a tight
group, playing inventive bop and making room for more besides.