CD Review by Jim Ferguson
With the exception of drummer Alan Jones, who plays with David Friesen and bassist Bill Douglass, a long time veteran of the San Francisco jazz scene, Matheny's cohorts are Generation Xers. The leader hails from Nashville, attended Berklee and now resides in the Bay Area. His approach to the flugelhorn is lyrical, lean and often lithe, and his varied compositions are open to myriad possibilities.
On these seven tracks (five originals, plus Horace Silver's "The Outlaw" and Michael Brecker's "Take a Walk"), he fronts two different rhythm sections: one manned by the aforementioned individuals and the other featuring drummer Scott Amendola (T.J. Kirk) and bassist Trevor Dunn (Mr. Bungle). Guitarists John Heller pumps chords and solos pointillistically, while Dave Ellis (Charlie Hunter) and Rob Scheps (Bob Moses) share sax duties.
Many of the tunes groove mightily and the players are clearly listening to each other, evident by the ensemble interaction and the various ways they key off each other's solos; however, while collectively the groups is long on sound and spirit, the numerous rough edges and awkward phrases are bound to give some listeners the impression that they are subsidizing certain members' post graduate jazz education.
With the exception of the vets, wood-shedding the details could make these guys awesome. As it stands, though, they are a work in progress.