Label: Beany Bops, 2019
Personnel - Peter Furlan: tenor and soprano saxophones; Vinnie Cutro: trumpet, flugelhorn; Roger Rosenberg: baritone saxophone, bass clarinet; Andrew Beals: alto saxophone; Erick Storckman: trombone; Neil Alexander: piano, keyboards; David Budway: piano; Saul Rubin: guitar; Peter Brendler: bass; Nadav Snir Zelniker: drums.
Peter Furlan is an able saxophonist, composer, and arranger whose eclecticism is well patent on this particular project, in which a crew of ten qualified and versatile musicians are at his disposal to play music inspired by the modern literary fiction. Combining energy and perspicuity, Between The Lines dawns with the opulent “A Visit From the Goon Squad”, which exposes a swanky beat, passionate unisons and counter-lines, and a pungent harmonic urge, in a style that is full but never florid. Demonstrating improvisational competences on this first track are guitarist Saul Rubin, trumpeter Vinnie Cutro, whose discourses are marked by a brisk hard-bop agility á-la Kenny Dorham, and keyboardist Neil Alexander.
The program includes a few breezy rides such as “TransAltantic”, whose odd meter doesn’t constitute an obstacle for a poignant soprano incursion with the bass clarinet echoing an ostinato in the back; “Black Hole Blue” (not inspired by any book but a dedication to Furlan’s late father), which saunters with R&B posture over a steady beat; and “White Noise”, whose punchy groove in seven courageously resists the unexceptional melody.
Itchy and playful, “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay” strides almost like a march, featuring earnest solos from the bandleader on soprano and Erick Storckman on tronbone. Alexander ceases the improvisational timeframe with some kitschy effects that may not go with all personal tastes.
Versatility shows up not only in the form of rhythmic Latin flavors and swing, like on “Underworld”, but also rock groove and elated post-bop on “Foucault’s Pendulum” and “Time’s Arrow”, respectively. The latter piece brings the stoutness of Rosenberg’s baritone to the forefront prior to pianist David Budway draft cool lines with ravishing melody and rhythmic meaning.
The funk-fueled “Watchmen”, a 12-bar blues, is a showcase for drummer Nadav Snir-Zelniker, who fills the gaps left by fragmented unisons, as well as Rosenberg, who sinks down his lines the way it was meant to. Moreover, Furlan pushes his reeds hard on tenor, while Alexander infuses eccentricity.
By jamming exuberant, hard-edged lines into the net of composed and improvised sections, Peter Furlan blends the tradition and the contemporary with structured arrangements. While the individuality gives the project supplemental color, unity is what holds it together. This is a fun album.
01 - A Visit From the Goon Squad ► 03 - Watchmen ► 10 - Time’s Arrow