The Chicago-based Aaron Koppel Quartet is comprised of leader-guitarist Aaron Koppel, pianist Matt Nelson, drummer Robert Tucker, and bassist Graham Czach. Their 2007 debut release The Wild Call of the Multitasker was well received inside and outside of the United States. With Greg Ward on alto sax and Geof Bradfield on tenor sax, the band extends their appeal and range on their latest project, Falling Together Falling Apart.
Although still in his twenties, Koppel’s maturity and musical acumen are notable and his leadership commendable as he gives ample space for his band mates to solo and converse in lively musical exchanges. Pianist Matt Nelson’s playing here is amazing but he doesn’t stray too far or break up the band’s strong cohesiveness. Koppel’s arrangements allow for strong accent to be placed on group interplay as his own guitar-playing steps back a bit every now and then for a breather.
For the most part, the style here is straight ahead, but there are some up-tempo bass-driven swingers, such as "Electric Cowgirl Boogaloo" which includes some delightful interplay between bass and sticks, and exemplifies Koppel’s willingness to expand, experiment, and even take an excursion or two away from the conventional modern jazz genre. Other highlights on this recording are the opening track, "The Big Tease," charged and melodic, with insistent, cutting saxophone. "Falling Apart," which showcases some of Nelson’s piano skills, "Toumani," featuring some dynamic saxophone, and "Gidderfiddle Blues" -- a smooth, playful and enchanting groove. Koppel’s guitar here is tight and precise but also lighthearted and carefree. Again, the saxophone, here, takes off, moving the piece to grander heights.