Nick Brignola
All Business
Reservoir Music, RSR CD 159

Nick Brignola, baritone and soprano saxophones; Dave Pike, vibes; Chuck D'Aloia, guitar; John Patitucci, bass; Billy Hart, drums

It's a real test of a bandleader's technical skill to assemble a group of diverse musical personalities and get them to coexist peacefully, especially when two strong harmonic instruments such as guitar and vibes are involved. Reed master Nick Brignola succeeds on all counts, with an album that's both swinging and intellectually stimulating from start to finish.

From the outset, it's apparent that the harmonic coloration will be shared democratically amongst the members of the group. The tremendous tonal freedom which D'Aloia enjoys, especially on the first track, "Green St. Groove," opens the group up harmonically, and Pike takes a shimmering, colorful solo, proof of his potent originality. "Darn That Dream" begins with a gorgeous, unaccompanied solo by D'Aloia and segues into a soulful duet with the leader, in perfect time. The tonal colors furnished by Patitucci and Hart are all that's necessary to imply the full chromatic spectrum of "In the Zone," very loosely based on the changes to "Out of Nowhere," and the leader and Pike take some of their best solos of the session. "Seven Come Eleven" is given two contrasting interpretations here, the first up-tempo, the second in funky two-beat. Everyone is given a chance to stretch out, and Pike's virtuosic harmonic effects recall Thelonious Monk. Bossa nova rhythms prevail in "I Wished on the Moon," and Pike's sixteenth-note patterns take on a Charlie Parker-like fluency.

Looseness and spontaneity are critical factors in Brignola's work, and he has most certainly exceeded those standards with this exciting session.

by James D. Armstrong Jr.

New Sounds - CD Reviews March 2000