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John Paris/Steve Thomas Quartet: Fourward Motion

The press sheet for the new John Paris-Steve Thomas Quartet disc Fourward Motion (Southport) proclaims this is “the sound of the new century.” If so, we’re all in a lot of trouble. There’s even a quote from a Chicago musician that says this music “defies categories,” but that’s not true. The category here is mediocre mainstream jazz. You can disregard the typos in the liner notes and the fact that Ellington is misquoted. And you can probably forgive that they make a big deal out of listing the microphones and production gear when it’s such a dull sounding recording. It’s just that it all sounds very local, like a band that plays in a corner bar with fake books in front of them. There are a few glimmers of hope: the odd-metered “Spam” and the trumpet-drum duet of “Blues for Sedgewick.” But then there’s “Transparent,” which doesn’t go anywhere, the silly (or should I say supercilious?) “New Tennis Outfit” and the lethargic “Tanufale.” Worst of all is their version of “Monk’s Dream,” which they treat as if it were just another standard. With Monk, you can’t just play the head and then solo on the changes. You’ve got to play the tune! Southport has released a number of significant recordings over the years. Unfortunately, this is not one of them.

Originally Published