Not Brand X
Sacha Perry can be understood as the first player to take up and extend the musical legacy of Frank Hewitt, the great seminal figure who was the house pianist at Smalls in Greenwich Village before dying in obscurity in 2002. Perry’s harmonic ideas are more radical than Hewitt’s, but he acknowledges his mentor in his blocky phrasing and especially his confrontational touch on the keyboard. Most of all, what he shares with Hewitt is a tragic worldview, a darkness through which the light of hard-won lyricism sometimes breaks.
Not Brand X is a standards album, but few of the songs are famous, and Perry’s perspectives on them are creatively distorted through the thick translucent lens of his chord voicings. “Brother Can You Spare A Dime?” proceeds with almost ponderous patience—Monk can be heard in both Perry and Hewitt—the more affecting because it is so stoic. “Love” (from the 1945 film Ziegfield Follies) is the most impressive example of Perry’s ability to weave enormous spontaneous modern tapestries from quaint vintage sources.
The bassist, Ari Roland, always takes his solos arco. Like Perry, he gets under your skin because his poignance is stark and understated. Perry and Roland have already found what many jazz musicians spend their lives seeking: individualized, identifiable modes of expression.