Monday, May 20, 2013

Ken Fowser & Behn Gillece: Top Shelf

Ken Fowser (sax)
Behn Gillece (vibes)
Top Shelf (Posi-Tone; 2013)
Michael Dease (trombone)
Dezron Douglas (bass)
Rodney Green (drums)
Steve Einerson (piano)

A Ken Fowser & Behn Gillece outing is always going to be top-notch and smooth; like good old fashion club date. With their fourth album, Top Shelf, they keep the relaxed bebop aesthetics of their previous albums while assembling yet another stellar array of musicians to assist in molding their material.

A steady, straight forth "Slick" leads the way, with some terrific bold notes from Fowser and triple toned patterns from Green and Gillece. A strong opening with Dease as a great counterfoil for Fowser.

"Ginger Swing" brings Einerson up in front alongside Fowser nicely. Gillece comes in and rips a set of notes midway through that are balanced perfectly from Green. But Gillece's agility really shines here as he begins some nice improvising before things swing back to Einerson and sextet move towards the closing notes.

"Top Shelf" is a killer piece with a slight Latin tinge. The rhythm is a scorcher and the beat laid down by Douglas, Gillece and Einerson is infectious. "Proximity" while dreamy also features Dease in a nice comfortable roll (almost Fuller-esque). I really love the way each member gets their opportunity to shine on this closing number.

One of the great things I've loved about Ken Fowser and Behn Gillece is their tight arrangements and dedication to tradition. Their writing gets stronger with each record. And their ability to find the right members is extraordinary. Top Shelf is yet again, another will delivered document from a duo that is continually growing and finding an exquisite voice.

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