Peter Hum – Alpha Moment (2015)

Like myself, Hum is an observer of the jazz scene, but he also has something going for him that the vast majority jazz critics do not: he’s an active participant in that scene. The Ottawa Citizen food editor, restaurant critic, jazz critic and blogger is a well-rounded journalist who happens to be a musician at heart. He’s followed that heart to make a terrific debut album A Boy’s Journey in 2010, featuring his compositions and piano within the context of a two-sax jazz quintet. Five years later, Hum returns with Alpha Moment and he brings much of the same appeal that made that earlier effort a delight.

Hum selected some trusty vets from the Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal scenes to build his band: Kenji Omae on tenor sax and Nathan Cepelinski on alto/soprano saxophones along with guitarist Mike Rud make a talented front line. His rhythm section consists of Alec Walkington (bass) and Ted Warren (drums). Almost every one of them backed up Hum for his debut, but Rud was added and the Jim Hall-trained guitarist adds to the harmonic complexity of that Hum sound.

None of their skills go to waste as Hum imposed democracy on the sessions. Maybe that’s why “The Good Fight” went first in the sequence to drive home that point. Hum constructs one his typical memorable, dancing melodies. Omae and then Cepelinski (on alto) solos, and Warren later explodes behind the main chord progression. Rud offers up a Hall-by-way-of-Pat-Metheny guitar solo, with notes gently erupting like bubbles. It’s almost ten minutes long but it’s a very quick ten minutes. The same goes for “Alpha Moment,” where Rud harmonizes with Hum along in an alluring intro that sets up the theme stated in a dynamic swing by Omae and Cepelinski. Omae shortly afterwards is improvising like a champ.

For the tender after-hours ballad “La Tendress, S.V.P.”, Hum’s piano sensitive touch to match the sultry tenor of Omae. His Rhodes is deployed on a couple of tracks (“Roma Rising,” “Voice From Afar”) that are Brazilian in style, the former evoking Captain Marvel-era Stan Getz with Hum approaching the plugged-in piano not too dissimilar to how Chick Corea does it. He’s fittingly relaxed on the bossa nova “Voice From Afar” and Cepelinski’s soprano sax is a confection that makes the song go down sweetly. “Bon Vivant” is powered by rock backbeat but everything else about it says ‘jazz’ and it features another attractive electric piano solo from Hum.

Alpha Moment ends with a couple of alluring rhapsodies, the waltzing “Carlingwood” and a melancholy ballad “Saddest Day Of The Year.”

Once again, Peter Hum walks the walk with an album full of strong compositions and strong performances. Alpha Moment is the product of a serious jazz musician who, fortunately, didn’t quit his night job.

*** Purchase Peter Hum’s Alpha Moment from Bandcamp ***

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on,, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at
S. Victor Aaron