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Ralph Peterson: The Fo’Tet Augmented

Peterson’s 17th recording as a leader marks the return of charter Fo’tet member Don Byron to the lineup. His clarinet alternately soars and skronks on potent Peterson originals like the intense, Middle Eastern-tinged “The Burning Sands,” the explosive 17/8 vehicle “Status Flux” and a buoyant clave rendition of “Acceptance” (which he previously recorded on 1994’s The Reclamation Project), all underscored by Bryan Carrott’s luminous comping on vibes, Belden Bullock’s deep-toned bass lines and Peterson’s whirlwind polyrhythms on the kit.

Byron provides some haunting bass clarinet on Peterson’s gorgeous ballad “Beautious B,” which reveals the drummer-composer’s unabashedly romantic side, while the avant-funk offering “The Commute” has him slamming backbeats like he’s ready to throw down with Maceo Parker. A pronounced Afro-Cuban influence can also be heard on the Fo’tet’s interpretation of Joe Henderson’s “Shade of Jade” and on the grooving closer “Keep It Simple,” both of which are fueled by Peterson in tandem with guest percussionist Eguie Castrillo.

Originally Published