Over the course of seven extraordinary original compositions the four-piece Groove Apparatus covers broad stylistic territory while staying within the general framework of straight ahead material. The principals have played in contexts from atonal to Motown to classical to tenure with Pat Martino, and the experience they bring to the project reflects that rich diversity.
Opening with saxophonist Scott Robert Avidon’s buoyantly propulsive "Kiyomi’s’ Garden," a showcase for pianist Jim Ridi, the quartet assays shifting tempos and timbres effortlessly. "Blues For Alex," from the pen of drummer Edward Taylor, reminds of the Jazz Messengers at times and features a searing solo from guest trumpeter Terell Stafford. The interplay between Stafford and saxophonist Scott Robert Avidon, here on tenor, is mesmeric. Taylor’s "At The Water’s Edge," benefits from gorgeous saxophone and trumpet voicing and solid bass and drums. Ridi’s piano work is impressive and expansive. "Owen’s Lullaby," again from Taylor, is a feature for Avidon and reminds of John Klemmer, especially in the lush opening section.
Bassist Steve Swanson works his instrument melodically and rhythmically throughout. On Avidon’s "Praying Mantis," he lays a solid foundation under Ridi. On Avidon’s "Oyako Don," he sets the composition up with strong underpinnings over which Ridi and Avidon work magic lines. The closing title piece opens quiet and breathtakingly tender, reminiscent of Bill Evans. A strong bass line introduces a saxophone section before it revisits the piano, now more upbeat, with driving drums. The saxophone, muscular and sensitive, restates the theme and the outro to the tune and the collection is executed beautifully. Superb recording. One of the young year’s ten best.