Ralph Lalama Quartet - Energy Fields - MQP1116



Energy Fields by Jim Santella (11-Nov-08)
An exciting band with a firm melodic grasp, Ralph Lalama's quartet pours over musical themes with emphasis, as accents fall into place with angular motion and improvised forays push forcefully. The leader's suave tenor, John Hart's sultry guitar, Rick Petrone's driving acoustic bass and drummer Joe Corsello's rhythmic thunder combine gracefully to shape each tone poem with a lyrical message. With "Indian Summer," "Blackberry Winter," "Old Folks" and "Like Someone in Love," for example, Lalama and Hart apply vocal-like phrasing that settles in comfortably. Although it's interpreted at a quick tempo, "Just in Time" comes with a similar impression that relies on melody for its foundation. Even Corsello's extended drum solo rises and falls with the punctuation of a lyric that is felt but not spoken.

Faster pieces such as Charlie Parker's "Buzzy" and Wayne Shorter's "United" allow the quartet room to get pumped. Here, Lalama and Hart form muscular phrases and drive the unit emphatically. Improvised madness reigns as each extends his performance beyond melodic interaction and on to creative frenzy. Well within jazz's mainstream, but feeling the freedom to turn random motion into sculpted art, Lalama and Hart light up with abandon. They push and they pull, while creating tension that later resolves with equitable harmony. The album's title draws attention to these areas where improvisation storms madly, but the unifying theme for Energy Fields remains rooted in the quartet's respect for an enjoyable melody.

Energy Fields - Ralph Lalama Quartet by Ken Dryden
Tenor saxophonist Ralph Lalama is a veteran of many record dates as a sideman, though he has had relatively few opportunities to record as a leader, something that should be corrected. Energy Fields is his first session of his own for a U.S. label, where the big-toned tenorist is well accompanied by guitarist John Hart (a gifted soloist and leader who is also underrated), bassist Rick Petrone, and drummer Joe Corsello. They negotiate Woody Shaw's post-bop masterpiece "The Moontrane" with skill, as Lalama soars with his potent horn. He adds a bit of dissonance to his explosive take of Charlie Parker's blues riff "Buzzy," sharing the solo spotlight with his musicians. The slightly funky take of the ballad "Old Folks" provides a refreshing approach to this decades-old chestnut. Lalama's majestic tone in the superb arrangements of "Like Someone in Love" and the easygoing "Indian Summer" recall Dexter Gordon at the peak of his powers. The session is wrapped up with a majestic, magical rendition of Alec Wilder's neglected ballad "Blackberry Winter."

MP3 Track Samples

01) The Moontrane - (Woody Shaw) 5:35
02) Buzzy - (C.Parker) 6:23
03) Nonchalant - (R.LaLama) 6:50
04) Old Folks - (W.Robison, D. Hill)(Arrangement - John Hart) 7:16
05) Like Someone in Love - (J.Van Heusen, J.Burke) 7:12
06) United - (Wayne Shorter) 5:25
07) Indian Summer - (V.Herbert, A.Dubin) 7:29
08) Just in Time - (B. Comden, A. Green, J. Styne) 7:49
09) Blackberry Winter - (L. McLohon, A. Wilder) 5:54