Derek Bronston Group: Ebb

The Derek Bronston Group cultivates a nocturnal, frequently dour vibe throughout Ebb (Labor LAB 7029-2; 49:56), a recording that starts out in jazz-rock territory but quickly downshifts into ballads. The nominal leader/guitarist shows the most promise as a writer and accompanist; on the moody material that dominates the recording’s second half, saxophonist Lisa Parrott makes good use of Bronston’s long melodic lines. Much of the music aspires to a minimalist delicacy, which, when riding along on Bronston’s arpeggiated chords, it sometimes achieves. Far too often, though, Bronston and company sound tentative and wrapped up in getting the tune out with minimal snag. Not a player of great facility, Bronston plays with a diffuse, waterlogged tone, and his careful solos tend to plod, as if he’s not quite convinced he’s got it right. Bassist Gary Wang and drummer Gerald Cleaver do provide solid support, however, and deserve a mention.