I had grown to enjoy drummer Mike Pride's playing in hell-for-leather duet settings with saxophonist Jon Irabagon like the wonderful I Don't Hear Nothin' But the Blues, but I wasn't prepared for the subtle nature of his approach to this album with his new group From Bacteria to Boys. The band on Betweenwhile is: Mike Pride: drums and compositions, Darius Jones: alto sax, Peter Bitenc: bass and Alexis Marcelo: piano. Pride plays drums, often quiet brushes and a number of smaller percussive instruments and leads the group in search of a combination of avant-jazz and soul music, much like William Parker's work with the music of Curtis Mayfield. They open with the horn players sitting out and the piano trio playing "Kancamagus I" a melodic mid tempo performance of gentle piano with probing bass and brushes. The horns enter the fray on the strong "Reese Witherspoon" where Pride provides a deep and shifting backbeat for the music to evolve over. Saxophone builds and explores over the choppy beat in an evocative manner. Strongly comped piano keeps the pace moving, and a thick bass solo develops before tart saxophone returns in a patient performance ending feature. "Rose" is a brightly swinging brief improvisation built around an interlude for solo bass. "It Doesn't Stop" has a choppy repetitive theme that builds tension and energy before releasing into a quieter section. The song develops dynamically between loud and soft sections with tension and release, and features a nimble drum solo. "Emo Hope" (great title!) builds to a majestically swinging performance with rippling piano over rock solid bass and drums, and another drum solo (lighter and more subtle.) "Bole (The Mouth or What)" develops from choppy saxophone to a full band improvisation that is quirky and interesting, with a rough and tough piano trio passage in the middle. The music then shifts pace to a lush piano led interlude that builds slowly and patiently with gently swaying rhythm. Strong pinched sounding saxophone returns to conclude the performance. "Inbetweenwhile" is a brief and snappy uptempo quartet improvisation buoyed by agile and insistent bass building to a fast and raw toned saxophone feature. Strong, biting saxophone is also present on "Surcharge" laying down great swaths of raw potent music, a storming highlight of the disc. Sad an lonely improvised saxophone opening to "12 Lines For Build" develops a powerful emotional presence in the music. The bonus track "I'll See You In Your Dreams" (available via download or through AUM Fidelity only) features Mike Pride: drums, percussion, glockenspiel, marimba, vibraphone, synth bass, mbira & clavinet with Alexis Marcelo: hammond C3 organ, Peter Bitenc: electric bass, Darius Jones: alto sax, Ben Gerstein: trombone, Jon Irabagon: alto & sopranino sax and Jonathan Moritz: tenor sax and takes things in a fascinating different direction with organ and drums creating a dub like atmosphere for the saxophone to improvise over. It's a memorable and hypnotic track, and shows that this interesting group has ample room to grow with future releases. Betweenwhile - amazon.com
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