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Don Peretz: Foremen

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Late on Foremen “A Theme” comes on like a blast of urban cacophony and ends just as abruptly. With this small slice of Ornette Coleman, Don Peretz’s band seems to be saying, “Yeah, we can be tough if we wanna.” Most of the time the drummer’s quartet fronts a friendlier, more accessible side, and Peretz brings a real pop sensibility to his music. The performances (almost entirely originals) and solos are kept short and snappy. His music is full of likable melodies and energetic play. Tunes like the playful “Retro Phlegm” and the electronic-dance-music-influenced “No Train Again” sound like refugee cuts from a Ben Allison/Jazz Composers Collective album. Though somewhat overshadowed by trumpeter Russ Johnson, reedist Christof Knoche contributes plenty to the front line. He even swaps his saxophones and clarinets for the harmonica on the homey opener, “Simple Man.”

Peretz’s choices of rock covers are a little clunky, though. A pedestrian take on Neil Young’s “Old Man” doesn’t measure up to the rest of the recording, and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is a tired and uninspired cover, especially in the post-Bad Plus era. We all know by now that Krist Novoselic’s bass line sounds cool on the upright. Peretz needs a better reason than that to call this tune.