Project Z – Lincoln Memorial

Project Z – Lincoln Memorial

Jimmy Herring – Guitar
Jeff Sipe (aka Apt Q-258) – Drums
Greg Osby – Saxophone
Ricky Keller – Bass
Jason Crosby – Keyboards

1. Departure
2. Miso Soup
3. Stale Salt Lugs
4. Freener Frolic
5. You Do
6. Sister Barbie
7. Slaif
8. Sad Sack
9. ‘Ol Bugaboo
10. Zamb Fear
11. Microburst
12. Lincoln Memorial
13. Arrival

When I started playing guitar in my late teens, there was the ritual of “Saturday band practice��?. I’m sure a lot of players out there will know what I’m taking about. You loaded up your gear. Had one of your parents drive you to the drummer’s house. Went downstairs to the basement. Set-up your stuff, and started playing the band’s cover tunes and “original compositions��?. A tape recorder was positioned where everyone could be heard; and everybody listened to the tape after practice was over. And that day’s long jam became your group’s next masterpiece.

Projects Z’s latest release, “Lincoln Memorial��?, has the band in set-up, turn on the tape machine, and start playing mode. The band did not rehearse, have any prepared music, and played “live��? in the studio. And their playing is a helluva lot better than my old band.

Now, I could use words like “improvising��?, “interplay��?, and “telepathy��? and say things like “taking chances��?, “give and take��?, and “stretching out��? to try and describe how musicians create music collectively on the spot. But I prefer to use “listening��? and “lucky��?. If the musicians are really listening to each other and tuned-in to what’s going on, they might get lucky and create something musical. And “sometimes ya do, sometimes ya don’t��?.

Project Z – Lincoln Memorial

Project Z – Lincoln Memorial

The music on the CD is very open and free-form. I hesitate to call some of it “free-jazz��?, but there are some leanings in that direction. But playing in the moment allows Project Z a level of freedom that they thrive in. They create an organized chaos. An idea is played by someone, and the other musicians react and run with it. The continuous stream of ideas set-up stylistic changes within the flow of the music. The music can go from swinging jazz, to a solid groove, to a rockin’ rave-up in an instant. The pieces work best when the musicians are able to lock-in together and sound like a cohesive ensemble. Some pieces tend to wander at times when the band reacts more than it listens, and things get a little too “out��?.

A lot of the playing is strong; with Herring in particular flexing some muscle. Sipe and Keller are a flexible rhythm section: you get the feeling that they’re jazzer’s at heart. Osby tends to lay out and pick his spots, but using space is also part of making music. Crosby’s keyboards seem a little low in the mix, but he provides a lot of the motifs that the band play off of.

Although there are titles for the collected pieces and they can be programmed individually, I enjoy listening to this CD straight through as if it were a performance (or a Saturday practice).

“Sometimes ya do, sometimes ya don’t��?. Project Z definitely do.

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