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Drew Gress: Spin and Drift

There’s much to admire on Drew Gress’ Spin & Drift, for these are good musicians, including the bassist-leader, who solos on most but not all tracks and also wrote the themes. Though fast tempos are absent, most of it is bold music-yet I don’t find any of it very compelling.

Interestingly, since the players are postboppers, there’s an occasional Tristano feel about Gress’ song “Disappearing, Act I” and the alto sax-piano dialogue before the final theme. This and most of his other themes are full of notes, discursive. Alto saxist Tim Berne plays freely for the most part, and thoughtfully; his best solo, on “Torque,” has up-down shapes that seem to amplify the call-answer theme. Like Berne and Gress, pianist Uri Caine is an eclectic, recalling Satie in “It Was After Rain That the Angel Came,” introducing dissonances in “The Sledmouth Chronicles” and playing romantically elsewhere.

Perhaps eclecticism simply has its limits, however. Or perhaps the rackety drummer, Tom Rainey, has his mates confounded, for instead of playing a flowing line and creating interplay, he batters away at his kit eight-to-the-bar. His accents are apparently random, and his never-ending, endlessly thudding eighth notes are definitely distracting to an otherwise commendable recording.

Originally Published