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June 2008

Eric Person
Rhythm Edge
Distinction Records

A risk-taking improviser, accomplished composer and inveterate swinger, saxophonist Eric Person has established a rep in the jazz community for his stellar sideman work over the past 20 years with Chico Hamilton’s Euphoria, Ronald Shannon Jackson’s Decoding Society, the Dave Holland Quartet and the World Saxophone Quartet. On Rhythm Edge, his seventh as a leader, Person is accompanied by his adventurous young Meta-Four bandmates (pianist Jarod Kashkin, acoustic bassist Adam Armstrong and the dynamic drummer Peter O’Brien), along with a few special guest soloists. Throughout the eclectic session, which is comprised entirely of Person originals save for a radical reworking of Jerome Kern’s “Yesterdays,” the saxophonist nimbly switches from alto to soprano to tenor and flute as easily as he shifts moods.

On the catchy, Ramsey Lewis-flavored funk number “Reach” he unites on the tricky head with trumpeter Ingrid Jensen before launching into a potent alto solo. Guitarist Cary DeNigris, a former bandmate in Hamilton’s Euphoria, turns in a dazzling solo on the driving “Pendulum Swing,” which is fueled by O’Brien’s rolling, highly interactive 6/8 undercurrent. Person soars on a probing soprano solo here, then switches to alto sax for the highly charged, African-flavored number “The Multitudes,” which features trombonist Robin Eubanks stretching over a churning 12/8 groove supplied by O’Brien and percussionist Danny Sadownick.

The infectious Crusaders-esque groover “I’ll Be Just Fine” has the saxophonist returning to soprano alongside Eubanks’s trombone while Kashkin contributes a sparkling Fender Rhodes solo. Person turns in some soulful tenor work on “Majestic Taurean Majesty,” then bears down on alto on the revved-up title track before engaging in some fiery alto-guitar exchanges with DeNigris on the uptempo burner “Supersonic.” He also acquits himself as a tender ballads player on “Sunset” and “Beauty” and touches on some depthful Coltrane territory on the modal “It’s Time Again.” The collection closes on an energized note with the bristling swinger “Tyner Town,” which features inspired stretching from Kashkin and Jensen along with Person wailing on soprano sax. His best outing to date, Rhythm Edge presents an abundant sampling of this multi-faceted yet underrated talent.

Originally published in June 2008
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