Don't get me wrong, I'm all about the darkness of a player like Mehldau or the somber tones of ECM discs. I groove hard to out jazz and find it hard to appreciate people that sit too much in the pocket. But Markley's quintet is nothing if not in the pocket. You'll find interesting, yet pretty straight up harmonic structures, nary a multiphonic from Jim Pisano's tenor, and only the occasional really surprising chordal juxtaposition in the leader's own playing. Yet there's magic here! Perlson really lights a fire on "Dry," Gisbert is stunning on... well, on every track. It's like those classic Blue Note sides (not that it particularly has a Blue Note vibe) where everyone just plays their asses off. It's a communal sort of thing.
Or maybe it's the focus on major keys and upbeat tempos. Heck, it's all of that. Even the ballad "But Beautiful" (the only standard on the disc) doesn't veer into melancholy, steering instead towards the kind of gentle sun that someone like Red Garland used to supply. This would far and away be a good band to see play live. Forget prozac, we've got Ben Markley!