The Matthew Finck/Jonathan Ball Project: It’s Not That Far

The Matthew Finck/Jonathan Ball Project is what happens when two dependably inventive musicians (guitarist Finck, saxophonist Ball) with years of solid experience team up with a no-nonsense rhythm section (bassist Jay Anderson, the ever-impressive Adam Nussbaum drumming) and throw Randy Brecker’s trumpet and flugelhorn into the mix on a few tracks: It’s Not That Far is a truly collaborative effort, devoid of showboating and affectations. Ball’s brawny, well-measured solos and Finck’s sleek, intricate lines are complementary but distinctly assertive. “Levin’s Impression,” one of Ball’s contributions, inches along haltingly at first, even-keeled, the saxophonist probing. Finck strips it down to crawl pace and jolts it back up, then it rollercoasters for the duration and fades into the sunset. Ball’s “Geppetto” and Finck’s “Get Up!” are freer, fiercer exercises that give the participants (including Brecker on the former) ample shine time. The sole cover, “The Way You Look Tonight,” isn’t appreciably different than a thousand other versions and probably wasn’t necessary, but it too is satisfying enough.

Jeff Tamarkin

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Jeff Tamarkin is the former editor of Goldmine, CMJ, Relix, and Global Rhythm. As a writer he has contributed to the New York Daily News, JazzTimes, Boston Phoenix, Harp, Mojo, Newsday, Billboard, and many other publications. He is the author of the book Got a Revolution: The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane and has contributed to The Guinness Companion to Popular Music, All Music Guide, and several other encyclopedias. He has also served as a consultant to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, NARAS, National Geographic Online, and Music Club Records.