COMPOSERS: Lampert,Perry
LABELS: SteepleChase
PERFORMER: Rich Perry (ts), Steve Lampert (t), Dennis Irwin (b), Jeff Hirshfield (d)


Unless they’re selling records in prodigious numbers, musicians rarely experience much loyalty from major labels these days, and the chance to build up a sequence of projects is mostly only offered by the independents, which are increasingly coming to dominate creative jazz recording.

Here’s one example: saxophonist Rich Perry, an undemonstrative character, whose leadership sessions are more about patiently following lines of inquiry than making a grandstand play for attention. This is his ninth album for Steeplechase as a leader, and while producer Nils Winther offers most of his musicians no-frills resources when it comes to budgeting the albums, at least the records are being made, and made available to an audience that isn’t only interested in spurious ideas about jazz `progress’.

Perry’s neutral tone and calm demeanour mask an improviser of power and subtlety. He can play as intensely as any of his peers when he wants to, but mostly he slips in and out of his various gears with an almost feline assurance. He brought two tunes of his own to the date, but most of them are by Lampert, an old playing-partner.


The feel is of seamless, endless extemporising over harmonic points spare enough to let the improviser go where his instincts take him; and the rhythm-playing feels rather like the Tristanoite brushes-on-a-phonebook approach, the better to focus on the melodic stream. Without undue fuss, Perry has essayed another exemplary set. Richard Cook