Paul Scea

Contemporary Residents

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Usually partaking in communal projects, woodwind player Paul Scea decided to cover a lot of ground with his first album as a leader, perhaps bringing too much to the table. Indeed, each piece achieves varied degrees of success. Scea relies heavily on electronic devices that at times sound dated and clearly nod to Miles Davis, Weather Report, or Jon Hassell. He is more inspired when he employs them to enhance acoustic instruments. The title track is a classic inside/outside affair with a shifting bassline and a marimba that add a distinctive and personal touch. On "Set of Three," a saxophone squeals in the background over a languid melody played in unison by the front line. The composition underlines the leader's interest in contrasts, which is showcased in some fiery call-and-response improvisatory sections found in other pieces. A couple of compositions make good use of Peruvian rhythms that are not often heard in a jazz context, even if the lengthy "Ana Numac" overstays its welcome. Despite its shortcomings, this uneven effort is peppered with bright ideas and benefits from passionate and committed playing from a group of lesser-known talents (with the exception of Anthony Cox who is exclusively featured on electric bass) who certainly deserve greater attention. All acquit themselves adequately to serve Scea's musical ambitions. The concept just needs to be refined and more focused.

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