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.Originally Published
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