Thursday, March 17, 2005

Brian Patneaude - Distance (WEPA, 2005)

Saxophonist Brian Patneaude's second album pick up where his 2003 disc Variations left off, mixing straight - ahead jazz with fusion and now adding touches of electronica to the mix. Joining him on this disc are George Muscatello on guitar, Ryan Lucas on bass, and Danny Welchel on drums. Dave Payette sits in on Fender Rhode electric piano on a few tracks.

"Change" establishes a mid-tempo groove with drums and guitar when the saxophone enters. The guitar keeps a slinky groove before the final saxophone solo which uses some interesting delay electronics to alter the sound. "Release" starts as a ballad with calming saxophone but as the drums and piano enter, the music develops a faster pace. This atmospheric song also features a Pat Metheny like acoustic guitar interlude. "Inspiration" is a nicely moody track with a mellow guitar solo and some shimmering electric piano.

"Alone" slows this down even further as this ballad opens noir-ish with a late night sound somewhat reminiscent of the ballads that appeared on Kurt Rosenwinkel's The Next Step CD. "Red" picks up the pace with a rapid drum groove and up-tempo saxophone. There's a fleet guitar solo with again a Pat Metheny influenced liquid flowing sound. What makes this track stand out is Patneaude's use of electronic processing of the saxophone on his solo, somewhat reminiscent of the electric saxophone experiments of Eddie Harris and Sonny Stitt. The nasal sound comes as a bit of a shock at first, but it really works well and gives the song a very adventurous feel.

The title track “Distance” starts at a mid-tempo with a nice electric piano break, and the disc ends ironically enough with “Unending” textural guitar backs a slow building saxophone solo which is lengthy and strong. Just when you think the song is going to wind up, is shifts gears with a strumming guitar and electronically processed saxophone. It’s a great way to end the disc, consolidating the advances the band has made over the past couple of years.

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