Tenor saxophonist Brian Patneaude and his quartet display a strong group aesthetic on their debut disc, Variations. Patneaude has a lithe, controlled sound not unlike Michael Brecker, and guitarist George Muscatello's snakelike intensity brings to mind both Pat Metheny and Pat Martino. The duo makes solid use of harmonically complex dual guitar/sax arrangements urged on by drummer Danny Whelchel and bassist Ryan Lukas. Muscatello's fascination with avant-garde guitarist/composer Leo Brouwer takes center stage on a few cuts, while Patneaude pays homage to modern sax giant Joe Lovano on "Jolo." There is a softness to Variations, a sensitivity to melody and harmonic color, that belies an improvisational muscularity. This is a highly accomplished debut recording that truly is the sum of some excellent parts.
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AllMusic Review by Matt Collar