Thursday, April 11, 2013

Ken Fowser & Behn Gillece Top Shelf Posi Tone 2013

Roughly 27 years ago Stan Getz made one of the finest duet recordings on the Blue Note label with Poetry and pianist Albert Dailey. The aptly titled Top Shelf picks up where Poetry left off. Granted this release is a sextet with attitude with  Fowser and Gillece assuming the roles as the modern day evolution of tenor saxophone and vibes. Michael Dease sits in on trombone and pushes the front line to the next dimension while the rhythm section of Steve Eineron on piano, Dezron Douglas and Rodney Green on drums take the ten original compositions with an obvious attitude of swing hard or go home! This fourth release is arguably their finest. I once asked Posi-Tone drummer Jordan Young, "Do you lean swing or is an innate ability to find your own groove?" Young's answer was probably the best I have heard and certainly a great description of this stellar release when he replied "How do you know you are in love? Is it a simple feeling with complex nuances or is it something learned from watching others?"

There are almost too many highlights to list here. "Slick" along with "Ginger Swing" and "Top Shelf" are perfect titles for a release  that is "Top Shelf." The composition "Slick" has a hybrid sound of the more traditional Blue Note and Impulse records back when the labels were committed to improvisational music. A different type of swing, slightly disjointed but melodically accessible with a straight ahead flair other working bands struggle for years to achieve and still run dry. "Ginger Swing" is a minor key, deconstructed swing that creates a unique dynamic tension of movement. "Top Shelf" is minor blues, free and open ended. Fowser and Gillece perform with a unique synergy and harmonious train of lyrical thought where melodic conversations are handed back and forth with flair and panache.
Top Shelf is an absolute gem.
Tracks: Slick Stranded in Elizabeth; Due Diligence; Ginger Swing; Unstoppable; Discarded; Pequenina; For the Movement; Top Shelf; Proximity.