Mark Soskin

17 (Seventeen)

TCB Music SA

Mark Soskin, piano; Tim Hagans, trumpet/flügelhorn; Billy Drewes, tenor/soprano saxaphone; Jay Anderson, bass; Matt Wilson, drums; Daniel Sadownick, percussion/congas

I know of pianist Mark Soskin from a series of Sonny Rollins albums on MIlestone in the 1970s (HORN CULTURE, et al), and on 17 we have an in-the-tradition, cerebral, intricate listen. Soskin's facility and light touch often recall Bill Evans (an easy right answer since there's a very complimentary revisit of Evans' "Time Remembered" in the track list), and his drummer on this date, Matt Wilson, has a similar palette. This makes for an arresting interplay between the two I don't often hear elsewhere, and Wilson can also be counted on to throw in a brush-like fill or an Elvin Jones drumroll at the cutoff. Soskin's solo and Wilson's commentary under same on "Pals" shows this cross-connect most clearly, given bassist Jay Anderson's wisely keeping out of the way so the conversation can blossom. Billy Drewes' saxes recall Wayne Shorter in tone but he's a bit less questioning and a bit more fleet of foot (see his statement on the closing "Lefty"). Soskin has more fish to fry per musical phrase than Evans did, or so it seems: his ideas are busier, more detailed, and he likes to write long head melodies that twist and bounce in odd directions. Not so far afield tonally that you'd wonder if he'd been digging Schoenberg, though. The overall effect is that of one of Grachan Moncur III's Blue Note series of recordings in the 1960s, and Tim Hagans, the lone brass player on board doesn't have Moncur's range but his solos are tasty. Solid quintet, better leader, and hope to hear more soon from them.

by Ken Egbert

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