New Orleans jazz pianist Peter Martin invites some of his best musical friends to join him on this CD, entitled Something Unexpected, which is part of the Max Jazz Piano Series. The title reflects the goal of the producers to showcase the work of some of the idiom's newest and most innovative musicians.
Peter Martin fits that bill. He is used to playing with the top young luminaries of the New Orleans jazz scene, some of whom appear on this album. Recorded live at the St. Louis Jazz Bistro, the musical cast includes Nicholas Payton on trumpet and flugelhorn, Reginald Veal on bass, Adonis Rose on drums, and Brice Winston on tenor saxophone. The quintet puts out a smooth sound, mixing some of the classics with songs penned by Martin. The piano is, of course, the focal point of the production, but there is plenty of room to showcase the massive talent Martin has assembled here, with generous solos for each of the illustrious sidemen. The CD starts out with one of the best tunes on the entire recording, Martin's own "Unusual Suspects." In it, he pays homage to the unique brass music tradition of his native city, his own instrument becoming a funky foil to the brass and bassline he accompanies. You can almost hear the audience relax into a good time. The Latin sound finds its way onto the recording in the next Martin number, "La Pregunta," and reappears with two songs from Antonio Carlos Jobim: "Triste" and "Corcovado." Another piece, "Queen," shows that Martin is a master of many moods, having just segued from exuberant to contemplative. The musical aggregation swings on "Attestation" before sailing into the still waters of "Quiet Night." The contrast in styles continues with the juxtaposition of Jackie McLean's "Dr. Jackle" with Martin's own "Lovely One." The performance ends with covers of Kenny Dorham's "Lotus Blossom" and Stevie Wonder's "I Wish." Martin and company pull out all the stops, mixing it up with a gumbo of all the styles for which the city of New Orleans is justly famous, from R&B to jazz. The listener, like the audience, walks away with the feeling that something new indeed has just been born into the world of music.