Ted Piltzecker

Unicycle Man

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Known as an academician more than a performer, vibraphonist Piltzecker proves he can also play, and he's got some all star support. Saxophonist Bob Mintzer, bassist Harvie Swartz, and pianist James Williams are three of the best in the business. Drummer Dave Meade and percussionist Joe Passaro hold their end of things up. Together they create some exciting modern contemporary jazz that pegs the brightness meter without putting on a glossy plastic coating. Piltzecker's sound is obviously literate and skilled. Unlike pyrotechnists who flash four mallets shimmering you into submission, he uses them with taste and economic melodicism, many times in tandem with Mintzer. Williams is the one who shines, his cascading, quick witted pianistics are a treat no matter the setting. Melodies tumble out of the participants for the puzzle piece, stop-start, segmented resonant phrases of "Conundrum" with Mintzer on soprano. More quirky snippets of tunefulness crop up on the title track, which rhythmically emulates a unicycle ride, vibes, and piano sullying over the bumps. There's a hot bossa "Buffalo Dance," a gospel waltz "Thea" quite like "Lift Every Voice," the self-explanatory "Tango for an Elegant Man," Mintzer's tenor streaming endless bars of boppish invention, easily swinging through the bridge. The sole standard, "There Is No Greater Love," takes fingersnappin' trio turns, starting with vibes-bass-drums and going to piano-bass-drums and back before trading fours. The value of Piltzecker's ability is complemented by the pros from Dover, especially Mintzer whose vibrant saxophone sounds perfectly match the metal vibes elemental quality. A fine date for the underdocumented leader, who still has his best work ahead full steam.

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