A fundamental supply-and-demand disconnect plagues the jazz-record industry. It has never been harder to sell jazz records, yet there have never been so many of them.
The intense competition works to the disadvantage of bands like the Sai Ghose Quartet. Pianist Ghose, guitarist Mark Jodice, bassist Jerry Wilfong and drummer Craig Fahey play with facility and enthusiasm. In person they are probably a lot of fun. But there is a glut, rather than a shortage, of modern mainstream pop-inflected releases like New Blood. It is difficult for such albums to withstand the competitive pressure and scrutiny to which these recordings are subjected.
Ghose’s original melodies are not sufficiently remarkable. His arrangements, with their calculated little breaks and melodramas, are more cute than compelling. One of Ghose’s favorite devices is to lay on a chord (on the title track) or a simple progression (“Cinq-Ro-Mesh”) or a single note (“Talkin’ Trash”), often doubled with the bass. But it’s not as exciting as he thinks.
Still, there are some nice moments on New Blood, most of them associated with Mark Jodice. Whenever the rich, round sound of his guitar enters, the level of discourse is elevated, whether through strong assertion (“Talkin’ Trash”) or subtle melodicism (“Little B’s Poem”).