For his new Impulse album, Two Blocks From the Edge, sax titan Michael Brecker had the luxury of going into the studio with his new quartet after developing the material on the road over the past year and a half. “I’ve never done an album that way before,” he says. “It’s always rehearse a couple of days before the record, try and get it together, then you’re in the studio and try to do the best you can. A lot of times that makes for very spontaneous performances. On the other hand, it’s really great to know the music and not have to think about it. And that way you can really be just free to play. The less I have to think about in the studio in terms of notes and heads and all that stuff, the easier it is to record. Consequently, this music went onto tape very easily. It was mostly first takes.”
There’s a very natural, conversational flow happening from track to track, sparked by a highly interactive hookup between drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts, bassist James Genus and pianist Joey Calderazzo. Watts in particular is such a vital part of this dynamic band. His muscular, unpredictable accents and unrelenting sense of swing really serve as a catalyst here, pushing the band through its paces and inspiring some heightened expression by the soloists.