Intentionally or unintentionally, the four members of Gypsy Schaeffer have misled listeners -- although not in a negative way. This jazz quartet is named after a historic New Orleans jazz venue where Jelly Roll Morton once played, and that might lead some to believe that the group's focus is Dixieland -- that would certainly be a logical assumption given their name. But anyone who acquires this self-titled CD in the hope of hearing Dixieland performances of "The Saints Go Marching In" or "Mahogany Hall Stomp" will be disappointed; truth be told, Gypsy Schaeffer's specialty is advanced post-bop (some of it mildly avant-garde), and there isn't a trace of Dixieland to be heard on this release (which was recorded in 2003). Plus, Gypsy Schaeffer is based in Boston, not the Crescent City -- and Massachusetts is where they recorded this debut album, which sticks to original material and doesn't contain any beaten-to-death warhorses. One of the things that sets this CD apart from other post-bop discs that were recorded in the early 2000s is Gypsy Schaeffer's interesting combination of instruments. Piano is excluded, and the group's acoustic-oriented lineup consists of alto sax (Andy Voelker), trombone (Joel Yennior), bass (Edward Perez), and drums (Chris Punis). A big part of their appeal is that unusual alto/trombone front line, which serves the group well on cerebral post-bop offerings like "Who's for Edward?," "Difference of Opinion," and "Hornet's Nest." Gypsy Schaeffer don't go out of their way to be accessible -- their material tends to be on the abstract side -- but listeners who aren't intimidated by the cerebral or the complex will find it to be a decent debut for the New England quartet.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson