Fuzzy Music may be the name of veteran drummer Peter Erskine’s independent label, but the recordings he makes are crystal clear on several fronts. There’s no doubt that Erskine is qualified to be called legendary, having contributed his percussive magic to over 500 dates since he got his start with the Stan Kenton band back in 1972. That’s in addition to a solid solo career (recording for Denon and ECM) and running Fuzzy since the early 90’s, where his label produces very good trio recordings, live gigs and big band dates with an emphasis on strong compositions, tight interplay and spotlighting under appreciated as much as well known talent.
The elegant and inventive pianist Alan Pasqua, bassist Darek Oles along with the liquid tenor of saxophonist Bob Mintzer give “Standards 2: Movie Music” its heart and soul, and together with Erskine’s subtle fills and hushed cymbal rides, breathes smooth swing and fresh life into this music. Familiarity provides the hook – themes from “West Side Story,” “Cinema Paradiso” and “Gone With The Wind” rubs elbows with standards like Cole Porter’s “Night And Day” and “I Concentrate On You,” and it’s Pasqua (also featured on the first “Standards” album) who delivers the grace notes. His improvisations have a suppleness and beauty that confound as to why he’s not better known. As producer, Erskine lets “Standards 2” come into its own – it’s impressionistic jazz with silky arrangements bathed in golden hues. Audiophile alert: the recording itself sounds breathtaking, with astonishing detail and three-dimensional soundscape. (10 tracks; 59:45 minutes) www.fuzzymusic.com
Labels: Alan Pasqua, Bob Mintzer, Darek Oles, Fuzzy Music, Peter Erskine