Dan Cray: Meridies, Devin Gray: Dirigo Rataplan

Here are a couple of completely different approaches to using a jazz quartet. One being a “classic” mainstream format, and one being a “classic” free setup.


Pianist Dan Cray leads his team of Noah Preminger/ts, Clark Sommers/b and Mark Ferber/dr through an enjoyable set of originals, as well as a couple standards. The rhythm team has a  playful charm on tunes like “East 69” and Charlie Chaplain’s “Smile.” When Preminger’s husky tenor joins the fray on material like the melancholy “Amor Fate” and the minor moody “Worst Enemy,” the texture created is quite impressive, a fairly glib take of Joe Henderson’s “Serenity” is compensated for by an assertive “March of the Archetypes” which showcases some fine stick work by Ferber. Good solid outing.


Now, about the word “outing”…. Drummer Devin Gray fronts a quartet similar to Ornette Coleman’s original quartet, with Dave Ballou’s trumpet replacing a chordal instrument, and Ellery Eskelin using a tenor, while Michael Formanek keeps the thing from splitting apart with his bass duties. The music seems made for the ADD at heart, with “Quadrophonically” going all over the map like a Garmin Nuvi, while “Cancel the Cancel” sounds like the circus is back In town. “Talking With Hands” sounds like someone took Monk’s “Evidence” and  put it through a funny mirror at the amusement park, while “Thickets” is reminiscent of dropping in on a meandering conversation. A hit of a groove comes through on “Prospect Park In The Dark,” but that gets shaken loose like a bad dream.

Origin Records


Skirl Records


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