Bill Perkins and His Jazz Quintet

Americatone International- USA , AMT-20052

Bill Perkins, reeds; Gordon Goodwin, reeds; Clare Fischer, organ; Bob Magnusson, bass; Vince Lateano, drums

Tunes: Mozambique by Goodwin, Chelsea Bridge by Strayhorn, In the Beginning by Fischer, Johnny Come Lately by Ellington, The Lights of Zehtar by Goodwin, and The Quiet Side by Fischer.

At first listening, the electronic nature of this CD is a bit shocking to the ear, but one immediately gets over it, as the musicianship is so great. Both Bill Perkins and Gordon Goodwin play a sax/flute synthesizer on various tunes on the CD. The consummate musician Clare Fischer plays around with different settings on an organ, and wrote the liner notes explaining Perkinsí interest in gadgets.

The first number, "Mozambique" grows on me every time I listen to it. It's a smooth upbeat samba, and the groove is really happening. As the solos move in different modern shapes, one can't help comparing the CD to Chick Corea's "Return to Forever" or some of Michael Brecker's recent EWI work. The combination of Gordon's soprano sax and Perkins' tenor sax synth give the listener a lift. Everyone except the drummer takes a solo on this cool tune, and Perkins comes in with a burning second solo on flute!

The only critical thing I can say about Strayhorn's "Chelsea Bridge" is that the organ sounds like it's in the next room. Perkins plays a beautiful, haunting melody, adding harmony the second time around. Fischer takes over on the bridge and the strangeness of it all sinks in. Perkins plays a sad but soulful tenor solo, basically just enhancing the written melody. The melancholy nature of the organ setting combined with the ultra-slow tempo puts the listener into a trance.

The remaining tunes on Bill Perkins' CD are good, but didn't grab me the way the first two numbers did. Lateano and Magnusson work really well together in the rhythm section, binding the songs seamlessly together. The unusual electronic quality of this CD makes one listen carefully for the musicianship. And that professional appeal is what makes Perkins' CD worth a repeated listening.

by Lucy Galliher

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