Why make a foray into reviewing The Impressionist? Most reviewers should address their motivation in reviewing anything in the first place before entering that essential fugue state of an enterprise. Without getting too deep in this case it was seeing the name of Gary Versace, the pianist, here first up always a sign of quality when other names are less familiar.
Shoot us but we hadn't come across the tenor/soprano player Marc Mommaas before even though he has been around for a while and comes with a distinguished playing pedigree. Jay Anderson (Zappa, Joe Sample, Red Rodney) on bass though is another matter and is much more familiar. But guitarist Nate Radley again not so much and only a little on our radar via Puzzle People his very listenable-to record that had the great master of Sco know-how Adam Nussbaum and Anderson on it last year and issued by Steeplechase.
Together do these four gel and what else nudged us to review this beyond perusing names on a piece of paper? Yes - and ''the sound'' obviously meaning the immediate impact of a few notes. Just seconds into 'Nostalgia' you know you have to listen further. Ah that Versace connection again as he dominates the opening of the piece. Dutchman Mommaas has a spectacularly soft tone that Anderson does so much to decorate on 'Nostalgia' and Versace likewise on 'Fauré'. If, UK readers, you are a Stan Sulzmann fan especially when Stan plays a ballad you may well dig Mommaas. That's the connection we make as a new listener to his approach. Radley's John Abercrombie-like delicate dance of an introduction on the title track is an album highlight and The Impressionist is stocked full of gorgeous melodies often inspired by classical composer Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924) as that earlier track mention more clearly indicated in its overt naming.
Don't worry this isn't an album that is designed as if by robot to appeal to both jazz and classical listeners which isn't always possible or desirable anyway as too many compromises often have to be made.
The original material is strong and the group interplay is sincere. Final thought for you dear reader - what do subjective opinions count for - you may well ask? You might mutter ''nothing''. The reviewers are all ''tin-eared''. Or, softening a tad, ''depends on who is saying it''. We go for gut instinct drawn from such knowledge that we have picked up over the years as listeners. That's it. The rest surely is conversation but it's good to talk long into the night about a record as inspiring as The Impressionist. You may well be doing just that if you make today a Mommaas Monday. Marc Mommaas, top. Photo: press