Dave Leslie

The Brim

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The Brim Review

by Robert L. Doerschuk

It's not quite chamber jazz, but The Brim is definitely a composer's showcase. Surrounded by fellow stalwarts of the Portland jazz scene, Dave Leslie provides discreet leadership on a series of short pieces, each characterized by a slightly off-center sensibility. Soloists play parts rather than stretch out and jam; think Birth of the Cool rather than Jazz at the Philharmonic. A synthesizer tuned to an alternate scale, played over a Middle Eastern rhythm bed with an ear toward color rather than flash, nods toward Joe Zawinul on "In the Now," with another Weather Report spirit, Jaco Pastorius, recalled in the unison accordion and bass figure that launches "Fall 92." Leslie's accordion shifts to an Astor Piazzolla pose with sensuous cabaret affectations on "Crackers 'n' Sherbet." These and other influences connect in Leslie's preference for arrangement over solo fireworks and, within this relatively small setting, he shows a virtuosity at the smallest level of arrangement and tone color that's comparable to that of players who make their statements with high-velocity chops.

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