A steaming quartet outing here, but before I go any further, are there enough ears out there for all the great Jazz talents I've come across since I climbed aboard the good ship "http://www.Jazznow.com" www.Jazznow.com ? You regulars to this site, start putting these CDs on for open-minded friends. Do a little missionary work. Drori Mondlak will thank you. Maybe not personally, but if you do decide to do what I've suggested, WAKE-UP CALL might be one of the first you toss on. Possibly the closing ditty is my favorite here: "Greycliff" begins with a Joe Beck turnaround but once we get past the infectious head melody, guitarist and author Cary DeNigris starts mining some of the deep fissures which have been cut by prog/Jazz axeman deluxe Allan Holdsworth since I first came across him in a late version of Soft Machine in the mid-1970s. DeNigris is more the devotee of earlier guitar wizards now, I think, like Joe Pass or Bola Sete, but the fluidity of his lines and the sleek execution is still very Holdsworth. I especially go for a composed late middle bit in which DeNigris falls into a percussive ostinato and Drori Mondlak, the actual leader of this session (first among equals), frees himself from the pulse and kicks the intensity way up. Later on, bass magister Paul Ramsey takes a bow before DeNigris takes the tune out on a bossa nova vamp: Ramsey has a mild debt to pay to Jaco Pastorius but his busy side has less of a rubber-band feel and more of a Percy Jones elegance. As good a set-closer as I've heard in a while.
The first 9 tracks aren't bad either. Saxophonist/flautist Karolina Strassmeyer links up with DeNigris for the stepping-stone head to Monk's "Evidence", and her solo after DeNigris gets first-ups recalls early Lester Young with a more adventurous edge. Mondlak proves himself to be king of the cymbals throughout this one, and a short drum interlude gives a cheery nod to Joe Morello. No wonder the band covers Brubeck's "In Your Own Sweet Way" with easy authority a bit later on. Some definite wit in the arranging is shown, such as an "All God's Chillun" Got Rhythm' that has a Brazilian feel, most definitely in Strassmeyer's flute playing. And Mondlak throws in a few bars of trading 16s with himself here and there that somehow keep the forward motion spinning anyway; something a lot of drummers don't do well.
This is a fun CD to listen to. So get it and share it.
by Ken Egbert
Jazz Now Interactive
Copyright Jazz Now, October 2003 issue, all rights reserved