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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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It's Not That Far

CD BABY 5638155492



It’s Not That Far

Gentle Soul

Levin’s Impression

I Thought You Had Gone


East 86th


The Way You Look Tonight

Get Up!

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 [52:13]

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.

Jonathan Woolf

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