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November 2004

Blueprint Project
Blueprint Project
Creative Nation Productions

The Blueprint Project's quirkiness sometimes sounds like satire and sometimes like amused, jumbled searching. The group's sense of humor helps it along on the eight performances that comprise its self-titled third album. For this outing, the band-saxophonist Jared Sims, guitarist Eric Hofbauer and pianist Tyson Rogers-adds guests Cecil McBee on bass and Matt Wilson on drums, two searchers who fit right in. (The principals met in Boston while attending grad school at the New England Conservatory.)

The music is the kind of unfamiliar territory that inspires liner-note writers and reviewers to pen poetic descriptions and metaphysical comparisons in the absence of concrete standards. Hofbauer's "The High Priest's Sermon" starts things off with a Monk-like clipped beat, and his tart guitar tone goes back to the days of Jim Hall with Sonny Rollins and Larry Coryell with Gary Burton's Quartet. Rogers' somber "Until We Have Names" sets the mood for some lyrical collective improvisation, and his "Abdullah" (for Abdullah Ibrahim) begins and ends stately and hymnlike-but in between, the ensemble roils, with Sims' soulful, rubbery alto rising to the top. The saxophonist's "The Old Country" is a far-out tango, definitely satirical, especially in Sims' staccato, vibrato-laden soprano.

The Blueprint Project keeps the performances to the point, and its crowded ensemble work is generally nonabrasive, which makes the album more friendly than obtuse.

Originally published in November 2004
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