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Brandi Disterheft Trio with George Coleman: Surfboard (Justin Time)

Review of fifth album by the bassist and vocalist

Cover of Brandi Disterheft Trio album Surfboard
Cover of Brandi Disterheft Trio album Surfboard

It’s probably no coincidence that Brandi Disterheft’s prowess as a bassist, on her fifth album as a leader, shines particularly bright on “The Pendulum at Falcon’s Lair” and “Del Sasser,” as both were penned by bass players: the former, with its tricky, sprinting bebop line, by Oscar Pettiford and the latter, with its stops, call-and-response figures and speedy runs, by Sam Jones. As with all 14 tunes here, both swingers are fueled by the powerful musical connection between the Canadian-born, NYC-based Disterheft and her frequent collaborator, renowned Brazilian drummer Portinho, a fount of irresistible propulsion and ever-surprising rhythmic colors and contours.

Disterheft’s inspired playing, distinguished by a beautifully woody tone and a knack for placing notes in the perfect center of any groove at hand—both characteristics doubtless informed by her extensive studies with Ron Carter—is handily demonstrated on a set of originals and standards, some done in newfangled fashion. The title track, a lesser-known Jobim gem, opens the disc with a gyrating groove and a shimmering melody sounded by pianist Klaus Mueller. The trio later travels more familiar terrain: “My Foolish Heart” is distinguished by an extended brawny, smoky turn by tenor saxophonist George Coleman (at age 85) and folkish declarations by the leader, while Disterheft applies her breathy, affecting vocals to “On Broadway,” which benefits from some back-and-forth between the band and Portinho, and Coleman takes center stage again on “Speak Low.”

The bassist’s gifts as a composer are displayed on a half-dozen tracks, including sultry ballad “Prelude to Coup de Foudre” and rambunctious Brazilian jazzer “Coup de Foudre,” the latter another showcase for Coleman; the evocative, retro-ish “Manhattan Moon”; and the romantic, hopeful “One Dream,” which opens with unaccompanied bass. Surfboard feels like a musical dream fulfilled.

Learn more about Surfboard on Amazon!

Originally Published

Philip Booth

Philip Booth is a longtime arts journalist and bass player based in Florida. Formerly the pop music critic for the Tampa Tribune, he has contributed to many national publications, recently including the Washington PostJazziz, and Relix. His byline also has appeared in DownBeat, Bass Player, Billboard, Variety, Spin, Rolling Stone, and several academic journals. The debut CD from his band, Acme Jazz Garage, gained airplay on about 35 radio stations across the US.