Sunday, May 18, 2014

Peter Epstein Quartet - Polarities

Peter Epstein Quartet

Peter Epstein - Alto & Soprano Saxophone
Ralph Alessi - Trumpet, Cornet
Sam Minaie - Bass
Mark Ferber - Drums

I was very interested when I read that Peter Epstein had released his first album in several years, Polarities. I remember discovering him at my local Tower Records (remember those?) when I ran across the series of CDs he put out on ma recordings in the late 90s. They were artfully packaged and featured great players such as Jamie Saft, Scott Colley, and Jim Black. He also had a beautiful solo sax album on that label called Solus.

It turns out that Epstein has been teaching for the past several years at the University of Nevada, Reno, where he is now director of their jazz studies program. He put out a record on Songlines back in 2005, Lingua Franca, and one on Origin called Abstract Realism, but has had a lower profile in comparison to his New York days.

Epstein has always had flawless technique, but he tended to be a little too laid back over the Polarities. There's a nice variation in mood and tempo, and he brings the heat when needed. It's a controlled burn, certainly, and Epstein never loses the lyricism that defines his style. He’s good on both horns, but on alto is where you can really hear his unique voice.
course of an entire album for my taste, and his improvisations could wander a bit. I'm happy to report that he's fixed those minor flaws on

Epstein has the perfect front line partner in Ralph Alessi, who can play in or out with equal skill. They work well with each other, trading lines and overlapping in that tight yet loose way that seems to define today’s more adventurous jazz albums. I wasn’t familiar with bassist Sam Minaie, but he and drummer Ferber hook up to provide a seamless ebb and flow to support the horns. Together, the four musicians pull off a neat trick for a group with this lineup: They don't immediately make you think of the classic Ornette Coleman quartet.

Welcome back, Mr. Epstein. It’s good to make your acquaintance again.

Sound clips are available on the Songlines website.

No comments:

Post a Comment