Wednesday, July 9, 2014


Whenever there's talk about the best jazz band working, bank on someone offering up the Wayne Shorter and the Branford Marsalis bands as the top. A case can be made for both bands. They have accomplished leaders, and gifted sidemen who have done great work outside the respective bands. Plus, the bands have been together nearly two decades, and that one sound most great bands shoot for Shorter and Marsalis achieved long ago. 

There're other noteworthy jazz bands that deserve props. One such band is drummer Ralph Peterson's Fo'tet, which has Steve Wilson, Joseph Doubleday, Flex Peikli and Eguie Castrillo raising pure hell. Sometimes Peterson changes the lineup as often as the great bandleader Art Blakey used to change his Jazz Messengers. 

Peterson is a former Messenger and Blakey was is mentor. Blakey cranked out jazz stars. Peterson is one of them. For proof, checkout his output and his ever increasing popularity over the years. 

The past four years, Peterson has made some awesome modern day jazz albums "Outer Reaches" and "Duality Perspective," and now there is this new album "Alive at Firehouse 12 Vol 2: Fo'n Mo'". Live is a good light to catch the Fo'tet. 

Peterson is a showman. On this date, he has a number of astounding solos, though, overall the album comes off as a showcase for saxophonist Steve Wilson and vibe player Joseph Doubleday. Maybe that is how Peterson envisioned things going.  

The Fo'tet plays music from a wide range of composers such as Chick Corea, Billy Strayhorn, Thelonious Monk, and Stevie Wonder. Throughout, Wilson's and Doubleday's playing is sturdy as a parking structure. The album’s best cuts are the ones Peterson wrote "The Lady in Black,” The Tears I Cannot Hide," and "Surrender". 

The Fo'tet is just as deep, as hip, and as swinging as Shorter's and Marsalis' band. With Peterson’s last three albums, especially this one, he has made a solid case for having the top jazz band.
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