The Phil Mosberg Quartet: The New Balance
This is the second effort by the Phil Mosberg Quartet following and building on the strengths of the promising "Forest Through the Trees." Guitarist Phil Mosberg penned the nine compositions, which, for the most part, rely on simple and catchy lines or grooves. However, solid improvisation and group interaction are what the band leader aims at.
Even if he takes his fair share of carefully constructed solos, Phil Mosberg leaves a lot of room to reedist Jon Irabagon to develop his own ideas. His dreamy and thoughtful clarinet playing can be fully appreciated as it is featured on three pieces ("One Mile Down," "As Is" and "Exhile"). By contrast, his saxophone playing is more feverish and intense, and drummer Vance Okraszewski makes his presence felt by consistently helping him reach new heights.
With a full and woody tone, bassist Nate Bakkum keeps the band well-anchored and focused, and provides the proper support for each situation. On the closing track, "Long Division", after a freely improvised section, he sets a groove that propels the band into a boisterous and joyous finale.
Although Phil Mosberg is often associated with the local free jazz/improv scene, jazz fans should not be missing out on this spirited set.—Alain Drouot
Available on Solitaire Records.