Monday, May 14, 2012


Not including your 2010 disc Outer Reaches on my top jazz albums list for that year was a big mistake. I realized that a few days ago when I replayed it. Ralph. I’m considering expanding the list this year. Is that a good idea? Anyhow, your new disc, which comes out the 19th of June, the Duality Perspective, will make my 2012 list. I promise. 

DL Media gave me an advanced copy last week. Duality Perspective is a sweet way to celebrate your 50th birthday. You made so far the best jazz recording I’ve heard this year. Ralph, I rarely comment on  new recordings before they come out. But with Duality Perspective, I didn't want to wait. The title is fitting. The disc has a dual identity.  

The first five cuts--One False Move, 4 in 1, Addison And Anthony, Bamboo Bends in a Storm, and Princess--were played by your Fo’tet, your students, and they played like experienced swingers, especially clarinet player Felix Peikli. Soloing on Princess, Peikli sounded like Pee Wee Russell during his prime. Peikli blew like he was in the Olympics.

The first half of Duality Perspective seemed as if you shaped your students for jazz leadership roles. Peikli, vibe player Joseph Doubleday, and bass player Alexander L.J. Toth  behaved as if proving themselves was required, and making your band was the payoff. 

The second half of the Duality Perspective is even better. Your former student’s trumpeter Sean Jones, saxophone player Tia Fuller and Luques Curtis, current jazz stars and bandleaders, are in the sextet.

This half of the disc has the spirit of a Jazz Messenger session. Fuller and Jones almost blew each other over on Pinnacles. Ralph most jazz drummers are domineering. Never forgoing an opportunity to grandstand. But you are like your idol Art Blakey. You have hall of fame level chops, and you don't have a problem with giving your band-mates the floor.

Your reputation as a swinger's swinger is well-documented. At this leg of you career, trying to outdo your band-mates is silly. Duality Perspective, proves you are about making your band-mates shine. That was one of Blakey's gifts.

Ralph, Duality Perspective felt like a showcase for your band-mates. That was surprising and selfless, given the disc was supposed to be a celebration of your 50th birthday.. 
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