Ben Waltzer

Jazz Is Where You Find It

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Pianist Waltzer and tenor saxophonist Bill McHenry are the young frontmen in this quartet with Alexis Cuadrado on bass and Jo Krause on drums. Recorded over two nights at the Pipa Club in Barcelona, Spain, the four piece exudes a totally relaxed, mainstream jazz feel. McHenry goes through Stan Getz/Sonny Rollins/Charlie Rouse mechanisms, while Waltzer flourishes at times, but mostly keeps his cool. Of the nine selections, Waltzer wrote one, six are standards, and two are off-the-path compositions. Initially, the players doesn't want to tread on each other's territory: "Time on My Hands" goes with the piano trio for quite a while before McHenry decides to join in. Erroll Garner-cum-Red Garland perform while shades of light blue steam off Waltzer's piano keys. Then on a bluesy, swinging "Suddenly It's Spring," McHenry and Krause workout รก la Sonny Rollins and Elvin Jones, before the tenor lays out and the rest go at it. The remainders are total group works save the finale: a 7/4 modal, repetitive, soulful line identifies the inventive "Eix" of Elisabet Raspall, and bars of nine or eight time shift on the rambling, tricky Waltzer original "The Thick Plottens." Cool and swinging versions of "Two Degrees East, Three Degrees West" and the waltz of John McNeil's "Greenwich" lead into "Thick" and the Charlie Parker easy paced bopper "Quasimodo," Waltzer adopting a Thelonious Monk pose and stance, McHenry reminding us of a Charlie Rouse in the house. "The Touch of Your Lips" has McHenry in a Getz-like, low-grade fever. This easy ballad perfectly suits his warm, round, loping, in-tune tones. The set ends with tenor and piano on a balladeers note for "As Long as There's Music." There's nothing revolutionary here, but Waltzer is quite a promising musician who should give us many harvests of mainstream jazz for autumns in decades to come.

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