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Not by Chance

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 15, 2009
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Editorial Reviews

In-demand New York Bassist Joe Martin leads a rarely heard all-star ensemble featuring Brad Mehldau (Piano), Chris Potter (Saxophones, Bass Cl) and Marcus Gilmore (Drums). Martin's original compositions lay the foundation for over 70 minutes of exciting and thought-provoking music, capturing this in-their-prime cast at the forefront of today's New York jazz scene.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 15, 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: ANZIC RECORDS
  • ASIN: B002HQWQES
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #426,164 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful album. You probably know two of the sidemen here more than the leader: Pianist Brad Mehldau is one of the most prominent and popular jazz pianists playing today, and Chris Potter is one of the most active and influential saxophonists. In this recording, Mehldau, Potter, and drummer Marcus Gilmore join Joe Martin in a wonderful quartet. The four sound just marvelous together.

The album reminds me a lot of Martin's fantastic previous release "Passage." Like "not by Chance," "Passage" featured a quartet with top musicians: Mark Turner, Kevin Hays, and Jorge Rossy. It's a testament to Martin's playing that he can assemble such incredible groups for his albums.

Really, this is great jazz: You cant miss with it.
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This is my first encounter with Joe Martin--but it certainly won't be my last. This is a wonderfully loose yet disciplined recording, and I would attribute this to two things: Martin's thoughtful compositions, and the quartet's kinetic chemistry. Chris Potter plays with an almost overwhelming force at times, and yet he plays for the band. Conversely, Mehldau comps and solos with an insouciance that suggests he enjoyed taking a break from the demands of his own (brilliant) conception (just listen to his funky, Monkish swing on "In the Meantime"). (I'm not suggesting that Mehldau plays thoughtlessly; he just sounds a little freer playing [this kind of jazz] for someone else.) I had never heard drummer Marcus Gilmore before, but he's clearly undaunted by his illustrious company, swinging--and thinking--hard. And then there's Martin himself. Given a blindfold test, I would probably have thought Potter led the date, particularly since Martin doesn't hog the spotlight. But Martin's ear for subtly memorable compositions (which give the soloist plenty of room to move), coupled with his firm but supple bass-playing (he favours the low end of the bass), makes the date all his own.

I will confess that I found this while searching for more recordings featuring Mehldau as a sideman (and his playing didn't disappoint!), but it was the previous reviewer's enthusiasm for Martin that ultimately compelled me to get this (thank you!), and I am now recommending Martin to my jazz-listening friends.

Coda: the last track, "The Stoic," is brilliant. It's a graceful--and yet also a tough--theme.
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