You might already know of jazz cat Mr. Paster from his hard charging Bennett Paster's Funktet, but this ain't quite that combo, Charly, though there are clear aspects presented. Relentless Pursuit of the Beautiful is initially the man's exercise in slowing things down, and that's where the 'beautiful' from the title sidles in: being, in the first couple cuts, conservative pastoral takes on straight ahead jazz, sedate, cool-headed, and reflective. What really caught my attention on the CD, though, was the presence of Joel Frahm, who captivated my ear a month earlier in the Tom Dempsey / Tim Ferguson Quartet's disc (here).
The third cut, Scraper is where Paster starts cutting loose, and Frahm wastes no time diving into the deep end of the pool, spiking the tempo and improv levels past the ceiling, after which Paster brings them back down again for his piano solo before turning matters over to a cool rolling drum solo by Willard Dyson Jr., kind of a Keith Moon-y affair harking back to the crazy Brit's leonine work on the Who's Underture. This gives way to more angular chops with some Mingus-y and Kirk-like shocks and jump-ups, as in Suspicious Fishes and Quiches. The Once Astray ballad, though, returns languidly to liquid laybacks, a showcase for Paster and his right hand tinkling way up on the keyboard. He bows out and Tim Armacost steps in with his sax in a distinctly different framework from Frahm's.
Throughout, Alex Norris' trumpet tends to ice things out, in Astray especially, but he can get rambunctious when the leash is slipped, what with the mid-section to the 10-minute Bash into Spring. Still, a little over half the disc's 68 minutes are sedate and thoughtful while the rest is exploratory and jumpin', even quirky at times, and Frahm and Dyson go to it once again during Bash, at the tail end. Man, the more I hear of Joel Frahm, the more enamored of his work I get. Can't wait for him to get a solo slab. Meanwhile, this is a good venue for him and everyone else.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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