Pearring Sound – True Story (2017)

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As a protégé of the prominent jazz pianist Connie Crothers, alto saxophonist Jeff Pearring learned the importance of finding his own voice. True Story — going on sale January 5, 2018 — is what happens when that inner voice comes pouring out, encouraged by the artistic brilliance of Crothers, herself one of Lennie Tristano’s most distinguished protégés.

As if to underscore that the music on True Story comes from not so much a person but a personalized sonic concept, True Story is credited to Pearring Sound. That ‘sound’ comes from its leader Jeff Pearring of course, but also Ken Filiano on double bass and effects, Carlo Costa on drums and Crothers on piano. These recordings were culled from two, separate live performances with the crowd noise extracted, both in the year before Crothers’ passing in August, 2016.

Not a single note played here was premeditated but as Jeff Pearring asserts, “In a verbal conversation ideas arise spontaneously, not randomly.” It’s a distinction that Pearring took to heart when making this music, because the madness is guided by method, whether it’s to add shape to a thought originated by a player, respond to it or dismiss it and start a new thought. These things happen often unconnected to whether a passage is melodious or dissonant, adhering to timekeeping or floating freely. Music happens in the natural course of playing it with spontaneity.

Pearring is in full command during the “Round Dance” trilogy, spinning out an identifiable melody on the fly (“Pt 1 (Gathering))”, but allows Filiano to devise a bass figure that kicks off “Pt 2 (Blue Foot Hop)” and with that seed planted, Pearring cultivates it into a fuller idea with Crothers assisting. Filiano returns with a cycling groove and the other three respond. Then Pearring signals a new phase (“Pt 3 (Dis Band)”) which is freer and Crothers tosses out morsels for Pearring to chew on.

Filiano is often heard bowing his bass, using it to add a horn-like sonority to go alongside Jeff Pearring, and it’s most obvious on the darkly-hued “Winter’s Edge.” Filiano (bowing again) and Costa launch “Who We R,” and Crothers and Pearring pop up to flesh out the unbounded mood. The leader soon engages in making drone-like noises with Filiano.

“Melody3727944” features Pearring raining down some Ornette-isms over a rumbling rhythm section in perhaps the most spiritually intense effort of the album. Costa and Filiano play the same convulsive pulse on “Spring Thunder” as they did on “Melody3727944” but this time, Crothers is initially playing at half-speed and Jeff Pearring likewise takes it slow, at first, working up to a high flying altitude.

“Everyday” is a highly engaged, four-way conversation that settles into a languorous blues, making conspicuous the link between older, simpler forms of music and newer, more nuanced styles.

There’s probably no better way to pay tribute to the master teacher Connie Crothers than to put on full display the results of her guidance and encouragement of an open-minded talent. True Story is the Pearring Sound shaped by four pairs of hands but one architect, Jeff Pearring. The student has become the master.


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 jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, 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 https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron

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