Andy Parsons

Flip!

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Let's face it: Many of the people who play straight-ahead jazz (though certainly not all) are jazz snobs. They live in a jazz bubble and are oblivious to what is going on in rock, R&B, country, or hip-hop. But some musicians are versatile and broad-minded enough to play rock one minute and jazz the next; drummer Gene Lewin, who is saxophonist Andy Parsons' co-leader on Flip!, is obviously that sort of musician. Lewin is a member of GrooveLily -- a fine pop/rock/adult alternative band from the East Coast -- but Flip! underscores the fact that he is equally comfortable as a jazz instrumentalist. This CD finds Parsons and Lewin forming a pianoless quartet with John Patitucci (acoustic bass) and Ben Monder (electric guitar), and the four of them enjoy a strong rapport through the album. Essentially, Flip! falls into the straight-ahead category. Parsons is coming from a post-bop perspective as a soloist/composer, and the comparisons include Wayne Shorter, Joe Henderson, and Michael Brecker (among others). Flip! isn't outright fusion -- not in the way that Weather Report, Return to Forever, Pat Metheny, and the Yellowjackets are fusion -- but there are times when Monder's electric guitar solos show some rock influence. So even though Flip! is more straight-ahead than not -- and even though Patitucci is on acoustic bass instead of electric bass -- the musicians certainly aren't dogmatic about being straight-ahead. Parsons, to his credit, wrote nine of the CD's ten selections (many of which tend to have a contemplative, reflective quality). The only track that Parsons didn't write is the standard "East of the Sun," which receives an interpretation that is mysterious yet slightly funky. Flip! falls short of exceptional, but it's a decent, respectable outing that Parsons and his colleagues can be proud of.

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