Christy Doran / Mark Helias / Bobby Previte / Gary Thomas

Corporate Art

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This quartet date by guitarist Christy Doran, bassist Mark Helias, drummer Bobby Previte, and saxophonist Gary Thomas may have been recorded in Europe by Stefan Winter, but its feel is utterly New York. Doran's playing is far more on the jazz-rock than avant tip here, giving the entire proceeding a feeling of that beautiful, edgy walk between composition and improvisation. Thomas -- normally an outside player -- reins himself in as a soloist in order to focus on the sometimes wondrous ensemble playing at the heart of the disc. Each member of the band writes on this set and it's obvious that the groove comes from within. It's knotty, sometimes intense, and often complex, such as on the opener "Blood Sugar," and on Doran's "Heitere Gelassenheit," where staggered arpeggios intersect with scalar riffs to form a kind of contrapuntal melody line. But there are wonderfully elegiac and gently swinging tunes as well, such as the flute-driven swing in Thomas' "Chiaroscuro" or the languid tempos of Helias' "21" and "Bass Minotaur." Helias also offers a jazz-funk workout with "Skin," with furious basslines driving riffed-up guitars and a bleating saxophone that stays in the pocket. The album closes with Previte's beautiful nocturne "Theme for W.," where Thomas and Doran weave around one another slowly and purposefully to erect a floating melody that seems to float and hover while actually moving toward a complex harmonic architecture with a controlled dynamic.

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