Gypsy Schaeffer

Portamental

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With their sophomore effort, this East Coast quartet refines its musical concept and appears more as a collective since all the bandmembers contribute compositions. Integrity is an essential component of great music, and there is plenty of it on Portamental. The foursome is not afraid of acknowledging influences, but these musicians know how to transcend the music inherited from the great artists who preceded them. For instance, the Steve Lacy-Roswell Rudd quartet often comes to mind, especially when Andy Voelker switches to soprano sax on which he has a convincing round sound. Both bands acknowledge their Dixieland heritage ("Mummer's Day") and have developed an attractive vocabulary. For the most part, the musical terrain consists of bouncy post-bop themes leading to adventurous solos and potent interaction between the lead instruments. And when the intensity level drops, the rhythm section is capable of maintaining a sturdy drive, as in "Faces in the Sand." On the title track which concludes the program, the band tackles a sinuous melody reminiscent of early Lounge Lizards before venturing into pure free improvisation. A sign of things to come?

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