Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.
In his incisive and informative insert notes for Brian Lynch's Peer Pressure, a Criss Cross recording [1029 CD], Mike Hennessy offers up the following rhetorical question – “Where are the Gillespies, Parkers, Rollinses, Getzes, J.J. Johnsons and Miles Davieses of the new Jazz generation? [To which he answers] “There aren’t any.”
Hennessy goes on to explain that the implication of this question and answer is “… intended to imply that the general level of [Jazz] artistry and creativity today is in a state of decline.”
To this charge, Hennessy offers two pertinent quotations, taken appropriately from members of today’s Jazz generation.
The first is from trumpeter Terence Blanchard: “The real problem is that people keep looking for new Dizzys, Birds and Tranes instead of judging the new generation of musicians on their own terms and evaluating their music objectively. Why should they be expected to be clones of other musicians?”
Alto saxophonist Donald Harrison, Blanchard’s partner at the time of this writing continues the sentiment by adding: “The general standard of playing among today’s young Jazz musicians is getting higher and higher all the time.”
Any doubt about the merit contained in these assertions by Blanchard and
Harrison is further swept away by listening to the playing of the musicians that trumpeter Brian Lynch has assembled on Peer Pressure
After stints with the Horace Silver Quintet, the Mel Lewis big band and the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra, Peer Pressure was the first album that trumpeter Brian recorded under his own name. On it, he is ably assisted by tenor saxophonist Ralph Moore, his front-line mate with Horace’s quintet, and alto saxophonist Jim Snidero, also a member of Toshiko’s big band.
The cookin’ rhythm section is made-up of Kirk Lightsey on piano, Jay Anderson on bass and Victor Lewis on drums who was to spend most of the decade of the 1980s as Stan Getz’s drummer.
In evidence throughout the seven tracks on this album are the general high standards which
Harrison uses to characterize the players on today’s Jazz scene.
A great deal of thought and care has gone into this recording from the standpoint of the selection of tunes and their sequence, the seeking out of Rudy van Gelder to engineer the recording in his inimitable style which makes the listener feel enveloped by the sound of the music, and especially, the high quality that went into the crafting of the solos.
Every one is listening to everyone else; adding something to what the soloist is saying through the use of background riffs and dynamics, pulsating bass lines, piano “comping” that’s just right and just enough, with the whole thing encapsulated by Lewis’ beautiful time-keeping and wonderful “kicks” and “licks.”
All of these qualities are discernible in the opening track of the CD; the rarely heard Thomasville, a looping blues by the trumpeter Tommy Turrentine that gives everyone a chance to get loose at a relaxed tempo that includes all three horn players trading four’s with Victor before Victor takes his own 12-bar solo.
This is followed by Park Avenue Petite another rarely heard tune, although this one is by Benny Golson one of modern Jazz’s prolific composers, and it becomes a beautifully played ballad feature for Lynch.
Sandwiched in between Peer Pressure and Change of Plan, two originals by Lynch, is a superb version of Horace Silver’s The Outlaw.
This composition is vintage Horace with its twists and turns containing all sorts of surprises due to its unusual structural form. Like Ecaroh, it employs both 4/4 straight-ahead and Latin-inflected rhythmic passages, but The Outlaw does so within an asymmetric construction that employs two sections of thirteen  bars divided into seven  measures of straight-ahead 4/4 and six  of Latin rhythms, a ten  bar 4/4 section which acts as a bridge followed by a sixteen  bar Latin vamp [or Latin pedal] with a two  break that leads into the next solo.
It’s a masterpiece whose seemingly disparate parts generate a powerful “tension and release” effect that will leave you wanting to listen to this sprightly bit of musical magic over and over again.
While we all miss the great musicians who created modern Jazz, the music on this recording is an example that their legacy of excellence in musicianship, creativity and improvisation lives on and that the music is in good hands.
Treat yourself – these guys can PLAY!