Jimmy Bennington: Midnight Choir (2003)
The album is also somewhat schizophrenic. From the free excursions of saxophonist Seth Paynter’s three tracks to the overt romanticism of the Michel LeGrande staple, “What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?” it almost feels like two different groups, two different records. Albert Manglesdorff’s “Street of Loneliness” and John Coltrane’s “Equinox” sit somewhere in the middle; straddling the line between post-bop and free jazz; they are, arguably, the two most successful tracks on the record in that they impose a certain structure while, at the same time, providing plenty of freedom for the group to experiment.
The players are all skilled, if not exceptional. The core trio of Paynter, bassist David Klingensmith and Bennington play with confidence and a certain chemistry. Trombonist Bruce Melville, who appears on two tracks, is a strong player who coaxes a variety of textures from his instrument, especially on “Equinox”. Pianist John Benjamin shows the ability to cross from the free jazz of “Ganges” to the more lyrical LeGrande tune.
The group approaches free jazz sometimes with the snaking approach of Ornette Coleman, and other times with the more spacious approach of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, but never comes close to being as satisfying as either. And that, in the final analysis, is the problem with Midnight Choir ; the group plays well, but never manage to elevate things beyond the pedestrian. Listeners interested in exploring free jazz would be better off looking elsewhere for inspiration.
For more information visit www.oa2records.com .
Track Listing: The Mind; Two Fascinations; Street of Loneliness; Equinox; Ganges; Malcolm Pinson!; What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?
Personnel: Set Paynter (tenor and soprano saxophones, vocal on (1), hand drum), Bruce Melville (trombone on 2, 4), John Benjamin (piano on 5, 7), David Klingensmith (bass), Jimmy Bennington (drums, arrangements)
Record Label: OA2 Records
Style: Modern Jazz