Friday, May 11, 2012

Ralph Peterson The Duality Perspective 2012

Back in April of 2011 I reviewed the Ralph Peterson Unity project which essentially is his Larry Young tribute band. Long story short I called it the sleeper of the year. You can read the review for yourself:

It was at least six months later Down Beat reviewed the same Peterson disc and gave it 4 stars.

Now Peterson is back with The Duality Perspective featuring some established stars such as Sean Jones along with some rising stars in the Curtis Brothers and some of the hottest young talent to come out of Jazz U. (Berklee) in years. Long story short has The Duality Perspective skyrocket to the head of the pack picking up that extra star for a 5 star sonic feast hitting the visceral and cerebral for well could be the finest straight ahead release of 2012.

Peterson swings like a beast and may well be one of the most underrated if not under appreciated drummers on the scene. Similar to his mentor Art Blakey is the keen ear for melody and swing not to mention the ability to spot the very best in young talent. The Duality Perspective is far more than a nice post bop tribute to Peterson's roots. We find Peterson acknowledging his roots as the evocative cover art indicated but we also can hear the music being pushed forward with a fresh swing and perhaps more modern approach as opposed to simply phoning it in.

Essentially two recordings in one we have the Fo'tet and Sextet which are of course the core of The Duality Perspective. Peterson has never played better throughout this release while not comfortable to simply sit in the pocket we find Peterson owning the pocket while pushing his contemporaries to reach their potential and the end result is a release on point every step of the way. The Fo'tet kicks things off with the fortified nasty groove of "One False Move"  which Peterson refers to as "Swunk." Taking the driving swing of Peterson and add the deceptively subtle funk of bassist Alexander L.J. Toth and the end result is "Swunk" which is absolutely a groove you can use. There are no musical checks being written here that these musicians can not cash unlike some of Peterson's contemporaries. The ability to dial it down while never losing the groove has never been done better than with the ballad oriented "Addison and Anthony" featuring Felix Peilki's somewhat wistful but straight ahead bass clarinet adding depth, texture and a virtually three dimensional sonic depth of field. Another under appreciated but formidable talent in Tia Fuller opens the Sextet's portion of the release with "Coming Home." Fuller is a top flight artist with incredible chops on both alto or the soprano work done here. "The Duality Perspective" title track features a killer introspective solo but tenor saxophonist Walter Smith III, the zen like quality of less is more has never worked better. Oddly enough Peterson is a third degree black belt and practising Buddhist. The softer yet soulful "You Have Know Idea" is a tribute to Peterson's wife and is a wonderful vehicle to show a sensual side of Peterson while maintaining the finesse and surgical precision most drummers can work their entire career for and never achieve.

The Duality Perspective is far more than a self indulgent bash fest as is common place with some drummers. Peterson and his two all star bands work together as a cohesive unit with a harmonically diverse but lyrically driven sense of swing where everyone is singing from the same page of the hymnal.

Ralph Peterson easily earns that 5th Star for one of the finest of 2012. Peterson started out as one of the young lions of Blue Note back in the mid 80's and at 50 shows there is still plenty of gas left in the tank!

5 Stars!

Tracks: One False Move; 4 in 1; Addison And Anthony; Bamboo Bends In A Storm; Princess.

Fo'tet: Joseph Doubleday: vibes; Alexander L.J. Toth: bass; Felix Peikli: clarinet, bass clarinet; Ralph Peterson: drums.

Tracks: Coming Home; Impervious Gems; The Duality Perspective; You Have Know Idea; Pinnacle.

Sextet: Luques Curtis: piano; Zaccai Curtis: piano; Sean Jones: trumpet; Walter Smith III: tenor; Tia Fuller: alto and soprano saxophone; Ralph Peterson: drums.

Special Guests: Bryan Carrott: marimba (2); Reinaldo Dejesus: percussion (2,4,7,9); Edwin Bayard (7,10); Victor Gould: piano (9,10).