A debut Modern Jazz album from Brooke Sofferman, "Modesty's Odyssey" is an accessible album that covers a lot of ground from up-tempo instrumentals to cool complex lyrical songs.
The five-piece combo combines Sofferman on drums, Norm Zocher on guitar, Thomson Kneeland on bass and the renowned Jerry Bergonzi on sax, with Abby Aronson's voice. Each is a highly competent technician in their playing, but each also has that something extra that lifts the music to a higher plane.
The album gets underway with the upbeat, on edge "Beef Wellington," which along with "Shaodare" explores some interesting and unusual rhythms and time signatures. Both tracks feature good work by all the band with some particularly fine sax playing by Bergonzi. The time changes in "Beef Wellington" are so well handled that it takes a moment to realize what has happened.
Between these two tracks is "Dry Season" the first vocal track on the album, a lovely tune with lovely lean vocals underpinned by some great percussion work, it reminds me of China Crisis in one of their quieter jazzier phases.
The mid-part of the album includes the gentle "Autumn Lullaby" a song that successfully avoids becoming mawkish, and features some fine work by Abby Aronson who uses her voice as an instrument seamlessly complementing the rest of the ensemble. "I'm Sorry Blues" is an impressive darker more moody piece with more exemplary Bergonzi sax.
"Steak and Eggs" the final vocal track on the album is a fast moving song, with nice interplay between the sax and vocals. It is immediately followed by the title track, a slower languid instrumental, in which Bergonzi leads the way with fine solo playing, taken on by Kneeland's bass, and all held together by Sofferman's fine percussion work.
The album is a good debut from Sofferman, who penned all twelve tracks, it has great strength of playing. It shows influences from many sources (I suspect Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Brubeck amongst others?) but it adds a certain element of "Fin de Siecle" innovation.
I enjoyed reviewing this Post-Modern Jazz album, I recommend it to anyone seeking some good new music, and I look forward to the next offering from this combo. I will also be interested to see how Brooke Sofferman's music develops over the coming years.
865 Centre St #11
This review is copyright © 2000 by Ian Webb, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.
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