Jesse Peterson Quartet - Man of the Earth

Label: ears&eyes Records, 2018

Personnel – Adam Schneit: saxophone; Jorn Swart: piano; Andrew Schiller: acoustic bass; Jesse Peterson: drums.


Drummer-composer Jesse Peterson, an emerging figure in the New York scene, homages his father on Man of the Earth, a recording that also features a trio of talented young musicians and bandleaders, namely, tenor saxophonist Adam Schneit, pianist Jorn Swart and bassist Andrew Schiller. The album title refers to Peterson’s father’s hardworking posture, which became a true inspiration for the tunes.

His ability to merge the energy of rock with the fluency of jazz idioms with color is reflected in several titles. One of them is the title cut, a rhythm-rich composition that follows a typical AABA structure and boasts boppish phrases delivered in unison by sax and piano. The adaptable Schneit reveals a Coltranean sense of resolution in his phrasing. Swart engenders off-kilter voicings. The overall synergy is completed with the grooving unity of Schiller and the bandleader. Other pieces in which the group follows this jazz-meets-rock impulse are “Bucko Is Relocating”, a rollicking if sometimes dramatic number that features Swart temporarily unaccompanied before breaking free into a vibrant improvisation; and the no less sprightly “Hibbing BMX Life Experience”, whose chordal piano fluxes and bop influence take us to an unlikely crossing between Bruce Hornsby and Charlie Parker.

On “The Factors” the quartet plays with tempo at the same time that encapsulates ecstatic sheets of sound. The tune starts off as an unhurried 4/4 populated by unanticipated, burnished saxophone lines in the style of Loren Stillman. It eventually accelerates toward a triumphant passage in six that soon returns to the four beats per measure in order to sustain Schneit’s kinetic runs. For the final, the band re-instates that sort of torpor that had marked the first minutes of the song.

Peterson’s communicative drums open “Have a Winnebago Winter”, a buoyant post-bop exercise propelled by a seductive groove in six. This high-spirited mood is lowered for the elegiac reflection “You Remember Mort” and “Blessing in Between”. The latter is a Moby-like song with an unabashed relationship with melody as it keeps stressing the theme’s catchy riff throughout. The climax is attained during the straightforward sax solo, designed with no metaphor, but incorporating striking passage notes that give wings to beautifully warped phrases.

This is genuine music with no space for gimmicks. Even the most complex sections sound effortless due to the earnest combination of harmony, melody, and rhythm. Thus, the songs are on point and make both the warmth and responsiveness palpable throughout.

       Grade  A-

       Grade A-

Favorite Tracks:
01 - Man of the Earth ► 02 - The Factors ►04 - Have a Winnebago Winter