To toe the line implies a strict adherence to follow the rules. So right away the title is certainly a contradiction in terms but the end result is a remarkable organ quartet that while maintaining that special soulful groove never forgets the lyrical straight ahead sense of urgency with the finished product being a smoker!
For the uninitiated, Pratt's professional resume includes work with Joe Lovano, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, and the Christian McBride Big Band. While having chops to spare, Pratt is a prolific composer having penned eight of the nine composition on this release. "Houdini" gets the party started with organ phenom Jared Gold and drummer Mark Ferber establishing the groove that has Pratt and trombonist Alan Ferber trading leads. Never content with playing it safe, Pratt's solo takes a more free jazz turn without every tripping that ever present self indulgent sonic landmine lesser talents seem to find with minimal effort. A unique use of texture here is Jared Gold's organ serves itself well by providing the bass line on all tunes. "Doppelganger" is certainly worthy of note. The term refers to the double of a living person. Trombonist Alan Ferber may well be Pratt's musical doppelganger as the chemistry and cohesion displayed throughout the release borders on the uncanny. "Star Crossed Lovers" is the lone cover and presented with panache and style to create a most engaging number for the listener.
Dan Pratt has chops galore. Impressive lyrically driven solos with the ability to free lance where needed, Pratt is the real deal. The addition of Alan Ferber on trombone was a stroke of pure musical genius as two individual players seem to morph into one horn voice. Jared Gold and drummer Mark Ferber are as good as they come. The original compositions from Pratt are inventive and tunes of forward movement while maintaining a healthy respect for tradition. There are a handful of straight ahead acts that are working what some are calling the new sound of straight ahead jazz. To paraphrase Sonny Rollins, " There is nothing new because of everything is a derivative of something else." The pseudo-intellectual jazz enthusiast can argue theory and sub genre till they are blue in the face. I will be far too busy listening to Dan Pratt's Toe The Line and this is certainly the future of modern jazz.
Tenor Saxophonist/Composer Dan Pratt succeeds in combining lyrical melodies with complex rhythm in an elegant fashion to foster a creative music that evolves and mixes together the soulful swing of yesteryear along with the steady swing of today's most modern sounds.
Tracks: Houdini; Minor Procedure; Wanderlust; Doppelganger; Star Crossed Lovers; Toe The Line; Stoic; Uncle Underpants; After (In Memory of Bob Pratt).
Personnel: Dan Pratt: saxophone; Alan Ferber: trombone; Jared Gold: organ; Mark Ferber: drums.