Bill Moring and Way Out East
The opening passages of the cut "Ornettology" signal that this recording from Bill Moring and his Way Out East group isn't going to be remotely business as usual. Trumpeter Jack Walrath's tune has both a jagged melody and an arrangement that elicits fierce, edgy solos from Walrath and tenor saxophonist Tim Armacost. With no pianist supplying chordal reference points or frameworks, the music is less restricted and continually shifting gears in regard to time and pace. Compositional duties are rotated, with the most arresting works penned by Walrath ("Cave Canem") and Armacost ("Free Ditty"). The loose sense extends to the rhythm section as well. Rather than just accompanying and staying locked in the background, Moring and drummer Steve Johns challenge and complement the frontline, playing aggressively yet always providing capable support. This is also a well-engineered session, one that enables the listener to fully hear and appreciate the contributions of everyone involved, and also clearly decipher what Moring and Johns are doing behind the horn players and when they're in the spotlight.
Other than Johns' interesting arrangement of Henry Mancini's "The Days of Wine and Roses," Moring and Way Out East offer the jazz audience rigorously performed, fresh music rather than repertory or interpretative fare.