Gordon Beeferman

Four Parts Five
Innova 924

By Ken Waxman

Gordon Beeferman’s music reverberates with assertive crispness. In fact, the four tracks which make up the 30-minute suite on this CD keep churning with so many sharp digressions, cleverly avoided dead ends and staccato openness that the pulse-quickening result is like following a car race with only your ears.

Beeferman, who plays piano and organ here, along with associates, multi-reedist Peter Hesss, guitarist Anders Nilsson, bassist James Ilgenfritz and drummer Adam Gold, also incorporates a variant of brittle formalism in his lines, no surprise for someone whose compositions have been commissioned by the likes of the Minnesota Orchestra, Albany Symphony and the American Brass Quintet. Although some of the themes and most of the transitions appear through composed, the quality of the arrangements and the skill of the players prevent Four Parts Five from sounding like watered-down jazzy classicism or coldly serious pseudo-jazz. Instead like a work crew making a three dimensional building from the technical strictures in an architect’s drawing, all the musicians ensure that each rivet is positioned properly to actualize the structure. The result may not swing, but it sways with the trajectory needed for a grounded structure.

For instance the sewing-machine-like rhythm that stitches together “Part 3” is animated via piano, guitar and double bass linkage, Magpie-like reed peeps pull the resulting line more tautly so that by the concluding “Part 4” it can break free into bracing call-and-response patterns that appear virtually endless. On earlier tracks the white noise emanating from Beeferman’s tentative Hammond B3 tremors owes more to canonical accompaniment than organ-grinder swing. But architecturally those sounds fit appropriately with Nilsson’s chiming guitar runs that release any overbeating pressure to herald the next section.

Those searching for a jerrybuilt road side honky-tonk are advised to look elsewhere. But those who admire the perfectly aligned skill that goes into creating a refined and contemporary structure – or composition – will be well-satisfied with this piece of real estate.

Tracks: Four Parts Five Part 1; Four Parts Five Part 2; Four Parts Five Part 3; Four Parts Five Part 4

Personnel: Peter Hess: alto saxophone, flute, bass clarinet; Gordon Beeferman: piano, Hammond B3 organ; Anders Nilsson: guitar; James Ilgenfritz: bass; Adam Gold: drums

—For The New York City Jazz Record May 2016