Pete Zimmer


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Waukesha, WI native Pete Zimmer had the odd fortune to move to New York to make his mark as a jazz drummer in mid-2001; in the post 9/11 haze, he started recording some impressive demos but major labels were hesitant to take risks. This turned out to be straight-ahead jazz's gain, as Zimmer took the initiative to start his own label, Tippin' Records. The harsh title of his third release comes in happy contrast to the upbeat, swinging cool spirit of the song by that name, which is the centerpiece of this lively, enjoyable collection. It's also one of only two compositions by Zimmer himself -- the other being the similarly optimistic, brass and percussive driven jam "Down or Up" -- on a set more dominated by compositions by legendary Boston sax player and Zimmer mentor George Garzone. Garzone's masterpiece here is the light and breezy seven-minute opener "The Mingus That I Knew," which is reminiscent of the legendary bass player's "Reincarnation of a Lovebird" and "Peggy's Blue Skylight." The hip arrangement also gives ample solo time to bassist David Ka Lik Wong, who otherwise is an exciting ensemble player who keeps things hoppin'. Garzone also contributes the graceful "To My Papa" and the bossa flavored "Tutti Italiani" (another ironic title considering the vibe). Perhaps the most fascinating piece is "Bye Bye Blackbird," which demonstrates the powerful symbiosis between Garzone's horn and Zimmer's fiery hi hatting -- without benefit of the rest of the ensemble. The overall judgment: a likeable and inspiring date from an ensemble that could just be the best kept secret in straight-ahead jazz circa 2006.

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