Fluid Dynamics. One of the nice things about jazz is how different performance styles mingle with one another at their edges. This mingling can take two forms: innovation and playing (stylistically) in all directions. An example of the first is Lester Young. The way he paid his bills was by playing big band swing in the 30s and 40s. But even while he was playing in a big band setting, his style possessed both Bebop and Cool characteristics (accepting that he predated both movements and was a direct influence on them). Anthony Braxton?s explorations of Thelonious Monk and Charlie Parker repertories, deconstructing their respective styles toward the avant-garde, represent the second type of mingling. There are also those groups that either their instrument composition or facility on a wide variety of instruments allow them a freedom and flexibility to mingle with multiple styles often on a single CD release. The band Flipside is also such a band.
Topside. Flipside is a standard jazz quartet where the piano is replaced by a quitar and a tenor/soprano saxophonist representing the brass/reed component. This collection of music is at once easily accessible mainstream and boisterous contemporary/avant-garde. Flipside?s sound and style can be heard as an eutectoid of avant-gardist Niko Scha? On The Other Hand, Naxos Jazz 86011-2) and the straight-ahead Los Angeles Jazz Quartet ( Look To The East, Naxos Jazz 86009-2). This makes for an extensile recording with a little something for everyone.
Multicultural Commonality. Flipside is comprised of two New Zealanders (bassist Matt Penman and guitarist Greg Tuohey), a Frenchman, reed player Jé²'me Sabbagh, and Belfast-born drummer Darren Beckett. The former three musicians were Berklee trained and moved to New York City, hooking up with Beckett, who had been on the scene there since 1995. All members are all under 30 and perform with the aplomb of more seasoned jazz musicians. This is fresh music. Post Bop bleeding into avant-garde. All of the pieces on this disc are original compositions divided among Penman, Sabbagh, and Tuohey. The sound ranges from a Steve Lacy-like serpentine soprano sax on "The Magic Beans" to a Joe Pass-like guitar ballad performance on "Nude". This is a thoroughly enjoyable set. If the listener liked Gordon Brisker's The Gift (Naxos Jazz 86001-2) or Ron McClure's Pink Cloud (Naxos Jazz 86002-2), they will like this recording.
Naxos Jazz. This recording is among the third wave of Naxos Jazz releases, all of which have been review within these electric pages by this critic. I have found that all of these recordings have been of a very high quality. All, for the most part, have been recorded live direct to two track digital, preserving that special spontaneity that is jazz. Naxos Jazz has also provided a wide variety of styles and performances, all executed superbly. The other recent Naxos Jazz recordings include Donny McCaslin's Exile and Discovery (Naxos Jazz 86014-2), Clifford Adams' The Master Power (Naxos Jazz 86015-2), the Mike Nock Quintet's Ozboppin' (Naxos Jazz 86019-2), Bill Cunliffe's Bill Plays Bud (Naxos Jazz 86011-2), and Larry Karush's Art of the Improviser (Naxos Jazz 86011-2).
Track Listing: The Magic Beans, Num? 6, Stretch, The Muses, Elder Days, Nude, Big Deal, High Times
Personnel: Matt Penman: Bass, Greg Touhey: Guitar, J