It's not often that one begins an album with a drum solo, but that's the sort of thing that makes one take notice. Guitarist Mike Baggetta is full of surprises on his second release with this quartet, with unusual moods and textures the order of the day. A hot young gun on the New York scene and winner of an ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award, comparisons will be made to Bill Frisell and Ralph Towner, but that's certainly not all there is to Baggetta. While he shares some stylistic elements and sense of space with both, he goes his own way more often than not.
The quartet certainly changes up the feel from track to track, from ballads to burners. "Momentum" is a raucous workout for both Baggetta and saxophonist Jason Rigby in a "Salt Peanuts" vein, where everyone seems to be having a great time. Other tunes, such as "The Sky & the Sea" are quiet, contemplative studies that require patience that is well-rewarded. The musicians display patience too, as they let the portions of the quieter works unfold. No need to rush when you know where you're going and want to enjoy the landscape.
Solos are traded back and forth liberally, with an ease that suggests they have played together for years. While Baggetta and Rigby take the lion's share out front, George Schuller has some fine moments in several tunes as well. Eivind Opsvik anchors the rhythm section like the veteran that he is. However, the focus is on melody, as "The Winter Moon" attests, with Baggetta's gorgeous work on acoustic guitar. Rigby plays sax as if he's talking on the faster tunes such as "A Trust Issue," which makes for more of a bop approach, while the slower compositions take on a singing or crying feel. The contrast with Baggetta works well, and the conversation never falters.
Lush and sultry in most instances, somewhat edgy in a few, the quartet is still in the process of exploring and maturing. Individually, the musicians have done a lot as sidemen, but together there is every chance that they could become a bright star.