Dee Dee McNeil, Musical Memoirs Blog

Scott Petito – Rainbow Gravity:

Here is a production of pure funk and contemporary musicality played by some of the top modern jazz players in the business. Scott Petito is a bassist, a composer, producer and engineer. This is his second recording as a leader and he has contracted a melting pot of world class musicians. You recognize their talent right away, from the first strains of “Sly-Fi”, one of nine compositions that Petito has written. He has a strong sense of melody. This tune sparks of fiery, punchy horn lines by Bob Mintzer on saxophone, with Petito’s bass, pumping up the band, locking in with Omar Hakim on drums and David Sancious on keyboard. David Spinozza adds guitar to complete this hot rhythm section. Bashiri Johnson fattens their sound with percussion. This tune is over seven minutes long, but I’m never bored for one second. The time changes and melodic intervals keep the music interesting.

Each tune features a different mix of characters, like short, on-stage vignettes. For the second cut, Petito invites Peter Erskine to the drum set, Rachel Z. is on piano and Chis Pasin masters the trumpet. Titled “The Sequence of Events,” Scott Petito adds a piccolo bass solo and Rachel Z is given ample opportunity to showcase her excellence on piano. All of Petito’s compositions are full of groove and embrace the smooth jazz idiom. Even when they settle down to a moderate tempo ballad like “A Balsamic Reduction,” they manage to inspire this listener to tap her toes. The difference between much of the smooth jazz I hear on the airwaves and this recording is that Petito is an awesome composer and has employed these stellar, Grammy nominated musicians to enhance his excellence. None of this music is repetitious or simplistic. The vibraphone solo of Mike Mainieri during this lovely tune is pleasant to the ear and adds to this production. Simon Phillips mans the drums and David Spinozza shines on his guitar solo. Scott Petito covers all bases, incorporating styles. This may be contemporary jazz, but every one of these players know how to produce straight-ahead jazz and are masters in their own right. You hear a sample of this diversity on “The Sanguine Penguin” where Bob Mintzer celebrates his saxophone skills with gusto and where Scott Petito walks (or should I say ‘runs’) his bass lines beneath this production like raging waters. Simon Phillips is given a space to solo on drums, showing off mean technique. This is a recording project burning with talent and excitement. It’s beautiful music with memorable arrangements. There is not one bad tune on this entire recording. Perhaps Petito summed his project up the best when he explained:

“The experience of playing and listening to music can suspend us and yet at the same time sweep us away to new places with infinite possibilities. That relationship between music and our very essence of being, always struck me as the most human of experiences.”

On” Dark Pools,” utilizing the great Jack DeJohnette on drums and Petito on NS bass, cello and loops, Scott Petito expands his sense of music and stretches our imaginations. Petito’s music is provocative.

The title of Petito’s CD is meant to further describe Scott Petito’s musical goals. What I learned from the liner notes is that “Rainbow Gravity” is actually a theory and a concept in quantum physics. It contradicts the Big Bang Theory and asks humanity to consider that time stretches back infinitely and continues on endlessly. As a bassist and stellar composer, Scott Petito endeavors to create a sense of timelessness in his music. At the same time, he’s striving to capture a feeling that could very well continue on forever. To me, “Dark Pools” exemplifies some of this magical music and the composer ‘s forward-thinking mindset.

 

Jeff “Siege” Siegel Quartet – London Live

This project opens with a striking drum solo. The tune is smoky; sultry; straight ahead! A sexy saxophone sings and a piano solo lifts tenor saxophonist, Erica Lindsay’s composition titled, “Meet Me at the Station.” to an exulted level. This group brings back memories of John Coltrane. Speaking of which, when I finally did get to overview the album credits, their third cut is the Coltrane composition, “Peace on Earth.” I was driving to a gig when I first listened to this album. Immediately, I noticed the excitement and technical ability of the drummer. He takes an outstanding solo on this first tune and always keeps pushing the musicality; coloring the phrases and supporting the various players with solid rhythm, but even more-so, with carefully placed licks of percussive encouragement. I could not wait to park my car, so I could read the liner notes and see who the players were. Sure enough, it’s the drummer’s quartet, and a magnificent ensemble it is! This is a ‘Live’ recording; a concert at the Pizza Express Jazz Club in London. It was the culmination of a European tour of Germany and Austria. You can hear the tightness and precision of this group, but also the freedom that comes from trusting your musical peers and being familiar and comfortable with each other. This is jazz at its best; Live! Uninhibited and formidable.

It’s the Jeff Siegel Quartet’s fourth album and their second live recording. Six of the eight songs are original compositions written by tenor saxophonist, Erica Lindsay, pianist, Francesca Tanksley and their leader, Jeff Siegel. Every song on this recording is excellently played and memorable. If I were giving out stars as praise, I would shower all the stars in our universe upon this project. Had I not been driving, I would have given this group a standing ovation.

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