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July/August 1999

Jae Sinnett
The Better Half
Heart Music

This album emphasizes Norfolk, Virginia drummer Sinnett's writing as much as his playing. "Different Strokes," the 6/8 opener, has a march-like rhythm. "Tony's Hop" (for Tony Williams) alternates 3/4 and 4/4. "Chris Cross" (not to be confused with Monk's "Criss Cross") starts in 4/4 and proceeds to 7/4. The group, a quartet, performs Benny Golson's "Stablemates" in 5/4. Despite such time signatures, there is no rhythmic awkwardness. In fact, you feel a good groove throughout the album.

Chris Potter dazzles on tenor and soprano saxophone, playing rangy, rhythmically variegated solos. Pianist Allen Farnham, featured on Sinnett's atmospheric "Another Fall," is a master of introspection as well as a sparkling player at medium and bright tempos. Terry Burrell, on acoustic and electric bass, handles the bottom and the complex rhythms convincingly. Sinnett is not a flashy drummer, but he's substantive, well-rounded, and thoughtful.

Originally published in July/August 1999
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