Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Bennett Paster Relentless Pursuit of the Beautiful 2013

All the well meaning conceptual ideas. The search of the truth in the beauty of music is meaningless if the artist or artists are limited in scope when it comes to execution.

Bennett Paster and Relentless Pursuit Of The Beautiful is a bold yet subtle look at the simple beauty of melody and where the aesthetics can transcend genre space and time with a formidable septet that sounds far more intimate than what the traditional size may probably dictate. I hate to use the phrase the "zen like quality of less is more" but it simply fits as well or better with this release than with any I may have heard over the past year. The all most simplistic presentation of the beauty of a melody surrounded by the carefully placed nuances of individuals such as Joel Fraham on tenor saxophone and special guest Gilad on percussion add layers of three dimensional texture while still allowing the music to take center stage. The vibe here is decidedly Latin and Brazilian rhythms but deconstructed for a far more organic presentation than what most audiences may be looking for or familiar with but the end result is spot on.

Paster takes the intellect out of the equation when it comes to composition and instead looks for a more accessible ebb and flow. Odd meters are visited but the ensemble does not simply hang there. Speed is king is not the rule of the day but the exception. This particular group assembled is more of a first call jazz collective but with a working band feel for a harmonious presentation if not celebration of the keen melodic sense of self Paster has been blessed to achieve here.

All compositions are by Bennett Pastor and considering his musical resume includes gigs with Rufus Reid, Billy Hart and Kurt Elling the high level of quality is of little surprise. A great deal of the writing actually occurred away from the keyboard perhaps lending to the fresh sound where no notes are wasted and sonic clarity is contagious throughout the group dynamic. "A Penny For Kenny" opens with a slight abstraction that moves straight to a melody that focuses the talent of trumpet player Alex Pope Norris like a laser beam. As the band settles into a swing that borders on the infectious they move effortlessly to "Homecoming" which is a slightly more ambient quality ballad that borders on the cinematic in quality and thematic presentation. Having review numerous releases for Harmonia Mundi, the tune of the same name grabbed my immediate attention with a slight more post modern classic approach smoldering just below the surface.

This conceptualized hybrid of swing along with the infusion of Latin and Brazilian rhythms is well conceived, written and produced. Bennett Paster is a fixture on the New York scene but a name to watch out for on a national level. This self produced effort is top notch. 4 out of 5 stars and as Paster's talent continues to grow so will his following. Another Independent artist labels would be wise to take a second look at.

Tracks: A Penny For Kenny; Homecoming; Scraper; Harmonia Mundi; Suspicious Fishes and Quiches; Once Astray; Lewinparie; Endgame; Bash Into Spring.

Personnel: Bennett Paster: piano; Joel Frahm: tenor saxophone; Tim Armacost: tenor & soprano saxophone; Alex Pope Norris: trumpet; Gregory Ryan: bass; Willard B. Dyson Jr.: drums; Gilad: percussion.

Special Thanks To Jim At Jazz Promo Services.