Project THEM – Project THEM (2013)

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A crack organization of musicians assembles with Project THEM, the self-titled release from a sextet featuring some of the biggest names in jazz.

The group features Bob Franceschini (tenor saxophone, flute), Mark Sherman (vibes), Mitchel Forman (piano, organ), Martin Gjakonovski (bass), Adam Nussbaum (drums), and Paolo di Sabatino (piano). The names alone offer a suggestion of what’s to come on the disc, which was recorded in Italy. The group formed mainly through the desires of Sherman and Franceschini to have a band. These youthful considerations took hold and were sculpted into Project THEM. The outfit toured Europe and ultimately elected to record some of the original tunes they’d been carving out.

The album affords the opportunity to listen to the band in assured harmony. “What magic to see the music grow night after night as the role playing becomes more and more comfortable each show,” says Sherman. “Our individual levels of negotiating the poetic language of jazz grew until the recording date and thankfully we caught this band for life on this CD.”

Project THEM opens with Sherman’s “Submissive Dominants,” a track that abounds with vibes and Forman’s sophisticated ivories. Franceschini teases out a main line with the tenor, skating along with Sherman in unison from time to time. The precision-playing eases long enough to afford space for a vibraphone solo, which shows off the hearty voice of one of the instrument’s finest modern players.

Another Sherman composition, “Solitude,” takes on a more idyllic leaning. This piece plays with pads of ringing sound, as the vibraphonist and saxophonist take to soaring parallel lines. Gjakonovski’s bass pushes out in all the right places with slight counterweight. Speaking of Gjakonovski, his “The South Song” is a pleasure. Nussbaum carries a textured performance with cymbal splashes that give way to dense snare hits. Franceschini takes to the flute for this outing, while Sherman’s ever-present vibes provide extra shading.

Project THEM is truly a group experience, as each member of the organization has a hand in the record. From Sherman’s distinguished, assertive voice to di Sabatino’s compositional dexterity on “A Short Swing” and “Ma Bo’s Waltz,” this is a disc of many satisfying flavors and feels.

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Jordan Richardson

Jordan Richardson is a Canadian freelance writer and ne'er-do-well. He also contributes to his own Canadian Cinephile and Canadian Audiophile websites. Contact Something Else! Reviews at
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