Volume Two of the “One Take” series (without rehearsal, select musicians are brought into the studio to lay down enough tracks to fill a CD/DVD) proves the worth of producer Peter Cardinali’s concept and moves it up to the next level.
The eight generous selections feature the agile, wide range of Phil Dwyer on tenor saxophone, Robi Botos’ ever-inventive acoustic/electronic keyboard skills, the discreet-where-required, soloist-on-demand drumming virtuosity of Terri Lyne Carrington and the unerring impetus of bassist Marc Rogers who follows, herds and complements his colleagues wherever their creativity leads them.
The ongoing challenge of using three cameras (Mark Peachy, Ryan Williams, Chris Mabeley) to capture the visual comings-and-goings for the DVD version has improved over Volume One (cross-reference below) but still has some awkward moments.
To be sure, musicians at work are not the greatest subject matter for the lens, but most symphony telecasts have a score reader in the booth to cue the director on which instruments are about to have their glory: lining up those shots is relatively predictable. With “One Take” jazz, the cameras know even less than the musicians as to when the solos will begin, end or “transish,” making the shot selection an artistic free-for-all and leaving the edit full of footage that’s difficult to cobble together at the same level of artistry as the music.
Early on (“It’s You or No One,” which drives steadily forward and includes a fresh, inventive Botos solo—unafraid of spiky dissonance—that morphs into bass and drums with a Petersen-calm "adieu") the split screen and dissolves produce an unintended, The-Blair-Witch-Project queasiness as both cameras and performers rock through the chart. During “Nothing Personal” the disproportionate visual splits (piano/bass) don’t add much but the twin view of the piano intervention works brilliantly: Botos dances with the keyboard, injecting Paganini repetitiveness before an exceptionally joyous “Flight of the Bumble Bee”). A few out-of-focus frames (on purpose or not) don’t come across anywhere near as artistic as the clarity of musical thought that’s being simultaneously generated.
Still, no worries! The music keeps the ear happily engaged and the majority of the video doesn’t dampen the experience. “Alone Together” could be the only song recorded and this disc would still be “must-have.” The thoughtful, introspective ballad, with Dwyer’s journey deep inside the melody—replete with a few bends adding greater individuality to his personal statements—and Carrington’s magical brushes, marvellously set the stage for Botos. Once launched, the pianist mixes the tune up and in, employing Rachmaninoff chording and Glass-like arpeggios and then, after Rogers sensed it was time to drop back—less is more again—the Beethovenesque inevitability led the quartet to an incredible finish that, rightly, faded to an intensely-moving black. What else could be said?
Other standouts are “Bemsha Swing” where Rogers puts every inch of his strings into the service of groove; “Listen Here” a funky ode to the sitcoms of the ‘60s and “Surrey With the Fringe on Top”—Dwyer’s accompanied solo (with a saucy echo of “The Wrong Note Rag”) that threatens to melt his keys. Just prior to the only trio of the album is “I Hear a Rhapsody”—there’s a compelling push as the four amigos sail through this frantic chart with the greatest of please.
With so much going for the second attempt, can’t wait for the third installment of jazz worth having. JWR