Ralph Peterson: Back to Stay

Drummer dates can be hazardous to anyone for whom bombast and over-drumming are anathema. The raw power and spirit of Ralph Peterson remain admirable qualities. That impetuousness has also been a drawback at times as past times suggested a tendency to steamroll bands he played in. Such has not been the case when he’s at the helm, as his recordings always deliver a sense of program, cohesive packages that transcend the blowing date, and this date delivers on the leader’s palpable maturity.

On Back to Stay, Peterson’s incendiary nature is tempered in favor of the compositional nature of the tracks. He lends ample spotlight to Ralph Bowen on soprano sax, Bryan Carrott on vibes and marimba, and special guest Michael Brecker, who broadens the palette of Mal Waldron’s lovely classic “Soul Eyes.” Bassist Belden Bullock rounds out the cast. Carrott’s skills have always lent a distinctive oeuvre to Ralph’s band sound. There’s even a wistful quality to Peterson’s original “Apple’s Eye,” and Ralph’s surprising trumpet chops broaden “Soul Eyes,” the date’s highlight.