CD review

Jeff Cosgrove, John Medeski, Jeff Lederer – “History Gets Ahead Of The Story”

Jeff Cosgrove, John Medeski, Jeff Lederer – History Gets Ahead Of The Story
(Grizzley Music. Review by Tony Dudley-Evans)

Drummer Jeff Cosgrove pays tribute in this album, his sixth as leader, to William Parker, bass player, composer. Parker is a key figure on the New York creative scene, author of two significant and wide-ranging books Who Owns Music? and Conversations, and is co-director of the annual Vision Festival.  Cosgrove acknowledges a strong influence from Parker’s quartet and particularly from Parker’s compositions which are the main focus of this album. Cosgrove has also recorded a couple of trio albums with Parker, Matthew Shipp and himself on drums for his own Grizzley label,and the success of those albums encouraged him to undertake this project. Seven of the ten tracks are by Parker who actively supported Cosgrove by talking through the material with him.

Interestingly, Cosgrove chose not to have a bass player on the album and nor did he go for the quartet format that is Parker’s main vehicle for live performance. He chose instead to go for a trio with Jeff Lederer on tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone and clarinet, and John Medeski on Hammond organ. This gives the music a very different sound from that of the William Parker Quartet, but one that I feel is consistent with Parker’s overall philosophy. The music – two by Lederer and one by Cosgrove plus the seven Parker compositions – is perhaps not quite as edgy as that of Parker’s Quartet, but has a nice range of moods from, for example, the swing of Moon and Wood Flute Song to the more ‘out’ feel of Things Fall Apart, which has an excellent call-and-response passage between Lederer on soprano saxophone and Medeski on organ.

Cosgrove is something of a revelation on the drums; he is extremely economical and uncluttered in his playing, and always supportive of his colleagues in unfussy ways. Lederer has his own distinctive style, mostly fairly straightahead in interesting ways, but he occasionally takes the music quite far out. Medeski on the Hammond organ adds a very special flavour to the album; his approach is more subtle than that heard in many Hammond organ groups, and he likes to build up his solos from a series of lines to a more gestural approach using the range of the organ. He also supplies the bass lines.

I am a big fan of William Parker’s music, and this different slant on it is highly enjoyable.

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