Steve Picataggio's a drummer enamored of straight ahead jazz and a guy who made the very wise decision to record at Tommy Tedesco's studio, then send the result to Andy Swift (Swiftsounds) for mixing and mastering, the result of which is a CD in which every instrument is perfectly balanced, and the listener misses nothing, not a single note. Most striking is the drum presence, perfectly blended as a lead and rhythm axe on every single cut. If there's such a thing as 'democratic sound production', Two Feet on the Ground shows you what that means. But of course that's only the start.
Steve's band is a quartet with Mike Rodriguez guesting on trumpet on three cuts. When he's absent, Daan Kleijn's guitar and Joe Alterman's piano take over and trade off fronting the gig, but, again, the mix job is so adept that the bass and drums slip in and out of the spotlight effortlessly, making each cut a tapestry of shifting illuminations constantly holding the ear, titillating the listener with unaccustomed emphases and side pockets. I dug the hell out of the ensemble's version of Carl Perkins' Early Bird with it's I'm Beginning to See the Light refrains, and then, when Solitude succeeded it, and Picataggio and Alterman started messing with the time signatures, breaking things down to almost a garage level before bursting back into cabaret, a huge grin spread across my cynical critic's mug.
Picataggio quotes a clever Phyllis Diller observation in the liner notes—"A smile is a curve that sets everything straight"—and you'll find yourself doing a lot of that smiling stuff as you listen. This is exactly the sort of music you go to a jazz club for, bohemain sophistique, and, I can't say it enough, the vérité semblance of the recording is thrilling for its you-are-there dimensionality. Kleijn's be-bopping stringwork, Picataggio's strong artful hand, Alterman's cool jive, and Martin Wind's shadowing-everyone bass guitar phat-work load up on the post-Beat ambiances (catch Rodriguez's very pre-fusion Miles sound on Picataggio's For This) to remind one and all that the past never dies, it just re-arranges the melody.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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