Pierre Giroux, Audiophile Audition

jord pettay.jpgSaxophonist Jordan Pettay has released her debut album First Fruit due in no small measure to a successful Kickstarter funding campaign. Such is the influence of the combination of the internet and  fund raising technology that brings such artists to attention of the listening public. We are all the better for it.

The music that is offered by Pettay and her cohorts is an unusual combination jazz, gospel, hymns, original numbers, and R&B tunes. Most, if not all traditional labels, would not have been interested promoting in such an esoteric mix of compositions as it would have been difficult to define the audience for such a combination. However it does seem to work to some degree for Pettay and it starts well with one of her own compositions “Whatever Happens”. The number has a strong opening section that is very reminiscent of  Wayne Shorter’s Speak No Evil. Trumpeter Mat Jodrell leads the attack with a forceful tone which Pettay picks up with an alto exposition. Pianist Christian Sands shows his glistening touch in a brief interlude before the numbers closes out.

The title track “First Fruit” is another Pettay original and refers to the first produce of the season and symbol of Pettay’s gratitude to God for the joy and blessing of music. Throughout the number Pettay shows her facility on soprano saxophone which swirls in a continuous flow, as Sands piano is fully engaged as a force behind her.

“You Make Me Feel Brand New” by Thom Bell and Linda Creed was first launched in 1974 by The Stylistics and made the Billboard Charts reaching No. 2 position for a couple of weeks that year. Drummer Jimmy MacBride lays down intricate groove with Christian Sands on Fender Rhodes. The front line of Pettay, Jodrell and McDonough romp through the melody and stick within the frame of the number to keep the R&B feel intact.

“ Straight Street” by John Coltrane first appeared on his 1957 Prestige release called Coltrane, which was his first session as a band leader. Pettay’s take on the number follows Coltrane’s theme but does not try to emulate Coltrane’s angular progressions or short clusters of notes. The fact that she plays alto rather than tenor, in some ways diminishes the impact of the composition. Nevertheless her command of the horn shows the force of insight behind her playing.

The final three tracks on the album “ I Exalt Thee”, “I Surrender All” and “Are You Washed In The Blood ?” are well known hymns and do not really lend themselves to a jazz interpretation. While all are well executed, they might have been better placed on subsequent  release than on a debut album, where the emphasis could have been on building an audience.

Jordan Pettay – alto & soprano saxophones; Christian Sands – piano, Fender Rhodes, Hammond B3; Luke Sellick – bass; Jimmy MacBride – drums; Mat Jodrell – trumpet#1 & 4; Joe McDonough – trombone #1 & 4;

Whatever Happens
I Am Thine O Lord
First Fruit
You Make Me Feel Brand New
For Wayne
Straight Street
I Exalt Thee
I Surrender All
Are You Washed In The Blood?

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