First of all, Russ Ferrante produced this piano-based CD, so have no illusion that, though the disc is on an indie label, this might be either New Age, as the waterdrops-on-water cover kinda hints, or a parlor collection of exercises by a novice. A-Mé is straight up, straight ahead, straight outta the 80s jazz possessing more than a few virtues a la the mid-period Brecker materials, Liebman / Motian, Hubbard, and others of similar aesthetic persuasion.
Ms. Hiroe Sekine not only chooses her materials well (Frank Loesser's If I Were a Bell, Cole Porter's Every Time We Say Goodbye, and so on), arranging and elasticizing them with class to spare, but grants huge swaths for solos among a floating ensemble of three to seven players, subsequently more than once pulling everything together like a small big band. Her own compositions are as indelibly imbued as the materials she interprets and indistinguishable qualitatively from the potency of those covers. Little Monster, her own piece and affectionately written for her pet dog, has a narrative continuo dropping into a three-way conversation between trombone, sax, and trumpet, making way for Sekine's solo chopping the melody and progression into lightly angular sidelines recalling fragments of Corea's transitions into the My Spanish Heart period.
Though Peter Erskine mans the drums through the lion's share of the release, Aaron Serfaty and Chris Wabich slot in nicely on four cuts (two each). The quartet orientation, however, may be Sekine's best environment. Though practiced only once here on Isham Jones' There is no Greater Love, the arrangement possesses a quirky élan giving the keyboardist a lot of room for colorations locked into far more rhythmic crosscuts and voicing. Regardless, every one of these ten tracks is a solid jazz outing, and nothing is under five minutes, so plenty of space is afforded for a serious session of immersion in a set of musical values too often scamped in the modern era.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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