Check your ego at the door takes on a whole new meaning for composer and arranger Drew Paralic on this delightful quick step back in time to 2010.
Roll With It Baby brings up twelve solid originals for this outing, none of which Drew Paralic actually plays on. Paralic feels perhaps having taken up piano a bit later in life his performance skills may not necessarily be what these tunes need to as Clint Eastwood said in the motion picture Dirty Harry, "A Good Man has got to know his limitations." When it comes to writing and arranging then Paralic seems to have none to speak of.
Paralic brought together some first call talent and presented these 12 works in either trio or quartet format and with the exception of two solo piano works shows off the harmonic influences of a Bill Evans or Thelonious Monk except without some of the baggage that comes along with that comparison. This is infectious if not addictive straight ahead swing done with finesse and an obvious deep respect for the roots of the original sound. Drew Paralic compositional talents are that of a musical chameleon with the ability to change harmonic colors to fit the situation and with the deceptively subtle yet complexity needed to add some musical muscle when the case should arise.
"Steps" opens this release with the textured polyrhythms of drummer Vinnie Sperrazza and a trip back to what was once referred to as West Coast cool which was a sub genre classification that the god father of this sound Gerry Mulligan hated. Parallic's work is somewhat open ended allowing members like stellar pianist Art Hirahara to add their own musical voice and phrasing to the mix and this is where the musical synergy starts to come together and take a potentially average release to the next level.
“Sweet Standard" utilizes David Pearl who I respectfully refer to as Oscar Peterson first blood part two, at least in this setting. Don't let the title fool you, there is a very specific lyrical and harmonic sense of purpose here. No notes are wasted in this compact straight to the point gem.
Paralic's 4tet quartet takes on the “The Sweetest Crime," a gentle ballad that catches a groove re purposes what would have seemingly been a more melancholy and predictable tune into one of surprising joy and lyrical discovery.
The walking bass line groove of the title tune "Roll With It, Baby" is the classic old school becoming new cool and a tune you immediately want to hear again upon completion.
All in all an incredibly solid work that would find most listeners appreciating the variety and obvious attention to detail that has gone into this recording. Paralic continues to impress with variety, texture and a certain air of unpredictability that will have you reaching for this disc again and again. I enjoy going past the traditional new release in an attempt to bring to your attention that hidden gem you may have missed. This would be one of those jewels well worth the time to check out.
Tracks: Steps; The Sweetest Crime; Too Much Joyce; The Arrival; Roll With It, Baby.
Personnel: Vinnie Sperrazza: drums; Bass: Elias Bailey; Piano: Art Hirahara; Reeds: Mike McGinnis.
Tracks: Sweet Standard; When Midnight Rolls Around; How Bill's Heart Sings; Twighlight At Noon; Dizzying New People Color; Prelude d'Ennui: Mike McGinnis: Reeds, David Pearl: Piano; Elias Bailey: Bass; Laura Kenyon: Vocal.
Tracks: Drew's Blues.
Personnel: James Newman.