See Through 4

Permanent Moving Parts
All Set! Editions AS014

Aiming for the optimum interpretation of eight of his compositions, Toronto’s Pete Johnston convenes a new version of his See Through ensemble that balances his bass and the drums of long-time associate Jake Oelrichs with two more locals, trumpeter Lina Allemano and vibraphonist Michael Davidson. The results are usually refined, sometimes rollicking and mostly remarkable.

Relying on the instant capillary responses of Allemano, who also has a presence in Berlin, most of the tracks slide through multiple moods. Like the introductory “Underground over Night” the majority of the tunes are taken allegro, with the trumpeter illuminating themes with mid-range brassiness as vibraphone bar slides and ratchets dab expressive tonal tinctures onto the speedy exposition. The bass and drums preserve the chromatic flow until the head is recapped or new variable are introduced. Brass notes soaring over the narratives are common as are harmonized trumpet and vibe lines. With the compositions paramount, solos are kept to a minimum, with the vibist’s most notable contribution on “Quietly Fading Fast” as slippery four-mallet echoes slide vivace atop drum rolls and a walking bass line. Oelrichs’ contributions are often daring as well, as when he logically knits pops, crackles and nerve beats into staccato accompaniment on “Possible Daylight Dreams”. Then on “Surrender before Then” uses time press rolls and ruffs to confirm the beboppy line propelled by repeated trumpet patterns and diffident metal bar judders and crackles.,

Speed isn’t the only quality either since other pieces such as “Familiar Second Thoughts” and “Weathering Teenage Hopes” are properly low-key and well-paced. Climaxing with chromatic brass coloration, the first tune could be a slow-moving lullaby propelled by doubled bass string slaps. The latter, with its trumpet mewls, hand drumming and delicate vibraphone clinks is processional until a final tempo upturn is completed with hand-muted brass slurs.

Cannily and permanently connecting the moving parts, the disc provides immaculate evidence of the musical sophistication of Johnston’s compositions and the quartet’s interpretations.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Underground over Night 2. Everything Happens Once 3. Weathering Teenage Hopes 4. Quietly Fading Fast 5. Possible Daylight Dreams 6. Imperfect Sunlit Room 7. Surrender before Then 8. Familiar Second Thoughts

Personnel: Lina Allemano (trumpet); Michael Davidson (vibraphone); Pete Johnston (bass) and Jake Oelrichs (drums)