Scott Reeves Quintet’s new release, Shape Shifter was recorded live over the band’s two-night stint from March 14th to March 15th, 2008 at Cecil’s Jazz Club in West Orange, New Jersey, the hot-spot owned by famed jazz drummer Cecil Brooks III. The recording displays the band’s capricious interplay, which shuttles progressive chord schemes, lavishly interwoven hairpin turns, expansive suspensions, and multi-layered formations with traditional jazz biceps flexing their movements. Their compositions have a Glenn Miller pomp with a bit of Pharoah Sanders’ penchant for eclectic experimentation and Sun-Ra’s off-kiltered time signatures and his knack for crunching instrument parts on top of each other. Produced by Scott Reeves, Shape Shifter provides audiences with precisely what it promises, compositions that shift their shape to whichever form the band members whim takes them. Both whimsical and firmly structured, the tracks enhance progressive jazz’s reputation to expand the audience’s imagination beyond the strictures of logic.
The provocative ebbs and swells of the title track display the band members ability to facilitate each other’s improvisations from the flowery and frilly saxophone furls of Rich Perry and the flouncy spins of Scott Reeves’ horns, which alternate between the alto flugelhorn and the alto valve trombone, to the puttering rhythmic beats of Mike McGuirk’s bass and Andy Watson’s drum sticks as the brisk flutters adorning Jim Ridi’s piano reels intertwine along the melodic melee. "The Alchemist" has a classic jazz charm with elongated lines in the horn patterns and jumping drumbeats moving in a swing-jazz fashion. "Without A Trace" contrasts the previous numbers with a sparse layering of softly prancing ripples irrigated by gingerly spread saxophone wails that personify human weeping. The wispy saxophone strokes gilding "The Soulful Mr. Williams" are delicately threaded and dieseled by traditional jazz motifs along "New Bamboo" while stacked in multiple layers of movements. The Scott Reeves Quintet exhibit a power pop jazz energy in the minty-catapulting beats, jutting twists, and frolicking interplay of "Pedacinho do Brasil" and "3 ‘n 2," which compliment the classic salsa shimmies. The cushiony mulch of "Incandescence" is inescapably soft and penetrative, while the compatible strokes of "Last Call" are stirrup in elongated lines and pearly beads of piano keys rimmed by reclining rhythmic beats with a traditional jazz stylizing.
Traditional and progressive jazz elements come together in the Scott Reeves Quintet’s album Shape Shifter with a brotherly love for each other’s individual qualities. The band members play with an autonomy that exhibit a family love and a binding which keeps their music sounding cohesive. Their melodic patterns may diverge every now and again, but their paths always merge back towards each other, creating a confluence that their peers can admire and strive to achieve.