Peter Bernstein – Signs LIVE!

Peter Bernstein – Signs LIVE! (Smoke Sessions)

In 1994, guitarist Peter Bernstein assembled a rhythm section of rising-star sidemen for Signs of Life, his second recording as a leader. Since then, bassist Christian McBride and pianist Brad Mehldau have become two of the most celebrated instrumentalists of their generation. Rounded out by drummer Gregory Hutchinson, who’s also enjoyed a stellar career, the quartet has released Signs LIVE!, an 11-track, two-CD document of two Jazz at Lincoln Center concerts that were staged 23 years after the release of the quartet’s initial — and only — recording. The results reveal the evolved skills of these innovative players and the effortless way in which they bring out the best in one another.

“Dragonfly,” a Bernstein tune not included on the quartet’s original outing, shows how the group can make a lot out of little. The song boasts a blues-, funk- and Latin-informed vibe reminiscent of Freddie Hubbard’s “Little Sunflower” and other structurally simple but melodically attractive fares of the mid-1960s. Hutchinson is the groove-maker here, reveling in his arsenal of choppy rimshots and slashing cymbal attacks. Mehldau enters with single-note lines that gradually blossom into a more complex exploration of the form behind percussive chording and call-and-response choruses with himself. McBride remains characteristically supple and surefooted throughout.

Two Bernstein originals from Signs of Life, “Blues for Bulgaria” and “Jive Coffee,” are reprised in an affectionate, good-natured manner, as though two long-lost friends had suddenly reappeared. The guitarist, like his rhythm mates, is a master of understatement. Throughout the session, he demonstrates how much can be said with just the right inflection at the tail end of a bluesy chord. And while the impulse of pure spontaneity Bernstein and his bandmates radiate throughout is palpable, they also display a pronounced intellectual character and subtly calculated nuance that elevate the performances to a realm removed from any conventional quartet date.

Mark Holston

For more information, go to http://peterbernsteinmusic.com/ and http://smokesessionsrecords.com/

Matt Micucci

Matt Micucci is the Online Editor of JAZZIZ Magazine.

Join Our Email Newsletter

Join thousands of other jazz enthusiasts and get new music, artists, albums, events and more delivered to your inbox.

envelope
No Comments Yet

Comments are closed