Brooke Sofferman

The Green Between

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AllMusic Review by Matt Collar

Drummer Brooke Sofferman's 1999 debut, Modesty's Odyssey, garnered him many plaudits as a promising up-and-comer in the world of adventurous post-bop. The Green Between does nothing if not reinforce this sentiment. This time augmenting his group from 1999 with pianist Jacques Chanier and trumpeter Phil Grenadier, Sofferman has achieved an even more lush sound. His compositions epitomize the aesthetics of the post-bop school: odd time signatures, complex harmonic structures, and muscular, intellectualized playing that borders on the avant-garde. Strikingly though, Sufferman avoids the most common pitfall of this genre, whereby melody is sacrificed for harmony. His themes are hummable and often paired with characteristically oddball rhythms, such as the reggae-infused "Across the Crebix" or the funky, Ornette Coleman-like rhumba of "Crownestula." Truly a group of Bostonians, most if not all of Sufferman's cohorts teach at either Berklee or the New England Conservatory. Consequently, the soloing is first-rate thrill-seeking exemplified by tenor sax legend Jerry Bergonzi, whose brawny playing adds depth to a truly well-balanced group. Standout Grenadier has a slippery, fuzzy tone and swinging approach that references both the colossal lines of Freddie Hubbard and ornithological creativity of Lester Bowie. As for Sufferman himself, he displays a knack for lithe grooves and propulsive, modern swing. Not quite as busy as other post-Elvin Jones drummers, he nonetheless expresses a stream of consciousness in his playing, bending his swing to his funk with a loose panache.

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