Thezekemartinproject1_span3

"4"-- The Zeke Martin Project

Stu Martin was a versatile drummer who performed with many top jazz artists before his untimely death in 1980 at the age of 42. His son Zeke is a similarly adaptable drummer who leads Boston-based The Zeke Martin Project (ZMP), which prefers not to confine itself to only one style of jazz. "4" is the group's aptly named fourth CD since Landscapes in 2001.

The opening "It Ain't You," one of four tunes composer-credited to "ZMP," snares you with its funky shuffle rhythm and an old school soulful theme played on organ by Yusaku Yoshimura, who also delivers a well-constructed solo. Guitarist Wan Gigi is both earthy and prodding in his improv. "Song for Eugenia" finds Zeke and his late father in dual solo roles to start, followed by Yoshimura's electric piano exposition of the delicate, reflective theme. Rozhan Razman's strong bass lines, Yoshimura's flowing solo, and Zeke's sensitive drum support highlight this track.

The funk of "It Ain't You" is revisited for "What You Gonna Say," this time with the tenor sax of Kevin Choo in the lead. Razman's bass and Gigi's metallic guitar fills blend neatly. Choo's sax appears to utilize a very pleasing wah-wah effect at one stage. There's notably outstanding drum work by Martin during Choo's theme reprise. "Say Something @ 6am" has a contemporary jazz gloss in its laid-back vibe and mechanical rhythmic pulse, and is obviously aimed at a different market.

The next two selections are presented in a piano trio format. Yoshimura's "Tusutsu Motase" has an appealingly sculptured theme that combines intimations of foreboding with an overriding meditative outlook. The pianist's solo and his interaction with Martin help make this a worthwhile listen. "Yearning" features Razman's sinuous bass, Yoshimura's shimmering electric piano, and Martin's vigorously constructive participaton. Once again, this trio proves its mettle.

The full quintet returns for "Know Time," which also marks a revisit of contemporary jazz territory, with synthesizer and distorted guitar voicings. However, emphatic solos by Yoshimura and Gigi ultimately bring this workout more in keeping with the fusion genre. There's a little something for almost every taste on this recording, which may or may not be in its favor, depending on what you are looking for.

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Scott Albin