The first thing that nailed me on this disc was the opening cut's (In Joy) very sensitive piano lines from Chris Pattishall (all told, there are three pianists on Fortunate Action), ramped up nicely in his solo but holding on tightly to the softer side of chopstering and thus perfectly preserving the track's métier. Drummer and leader Alex Snydman underplays beneath him and is thereby just as simpatico, susurrating a baseline without which there'd be no terra firma even as confident as Pattishall's lines are. Then Doug Abrams mans the keys in the follower, Cross-Fade, and evinces a differentiated, more abstract cue without disrupting the atmospherics of his predecessor. There's a good deal more of Paul Bley here than the Evansy/Corea-esque In Joy. Miro Sprague, the third keyboardist, first takes his seat in the title cut and fades into George Winston by way of Brubeck and Guaraldi, though he also shares angular affinities with Abrams as well. So what we have here are piano-dominated trio sessions (with saxist Carl Clements sitting in on two cuts and, man, he should return to the group in a fixed foursome next time out, taking Wayne Shorter over to John Coltrane) in which the rhythm section remains firmly the rhythm section, shining a light on a forefront piano constancy maintaining the spiritual harmony revealed in the liner notes.
And, yep, I said 'spiritual'. Crossing the borderlands between Buddhism, Santeria, and an interesting take on Nietzsche's odd notion of the Eternal Return, his strangely stuck-needle take on reincarnation, Snydman and crew definitely have positivist attitudes, and all the material in Action sits in the meditational, the intellectual, and the dance of the soul in a milieu freed from ignorance and negativism. Except for two cuts, all songs are written by members of the band, and the two that aren't are transformed into its footprint, perhaps the most sparkling of which is the take on Herbie Hancock's Tell Me a Bedtime Story. Ya just can't go wrong with Herbie's materials—um, except for that later electro-dance crap, that is—and the trio finds perfect architecture there, even more so than in the do-up of the Ellington/Strayhorn Star-Crossed Lovers. Like much of what's coming out lately in many genres, Fortunate Action is a return to elder virtues in tune with modern ways, and if Snydman & Co. are interested in offbeat approaches to their spiritual cogitations, I suggest Nisargadatta Maharaj. In that cat's oeuvre, what doesn't instigate brainlock and cause ya to utter "What the hell???" will provide interesting challenges to standard thought patterns, so who knows what it would bring to the music?
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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