CD – Mr. Clean

 

An exciting live date featuring the Mitchel Forman quintet, with special guests, Brandon Fields (sax) and Walt Fowler (trumpet). This recording captures the intimacy of one of LA.’s oldest jazz haunts, the Baked Potato, and the excitement of Forman’s quintet setting the place on fire. With liner notes by Nat Hentoff.

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The L.A.-based keyboardist has released his share of solo and group jazz fusion recordings but till now has been known far more for his amazing work with legends like Stan Getz,Wayne ShorterPat Metheny, and John Scofield, as well as various smooth jazz performers. Perhaps one of the reasons he’s less known as a solo performer is that, when doing his own thing, he never compromises. He plays with fire and intensity, building themes and jamming when tailoring and dumbing down is more rewarded. Artistically, this pays off with this exciting live date, with Forman and his good friends Brandon Fields (sax), Walt Fowler (trumpet, flugelhorn), Dave Carpenter (bass), and Joel Taylor (drums). Formanenjoys the freedom to spread out. He introduces “Gorgeous” with a gentle acoustic piano melody before slowly introducing the lush and romantic horn duality of Fields and Fowler, who add emotional texture to an already pretty piece. Fields‘ later reflective solo captures one of L.A.’s finest players in action. Forman may have used the title “Patience” to describe his listener waiting for his moody piano intro to lead somewhere on the second cut, but, again, his slow build pays off with some percussive ensemble work with Taylor and Fields.Fields and Fowler tease before exploding towards the middle, both in tandem and then separately. Forman switches to electric piano for Herbie Hancock‘s nutty “Spank-A-Lee,” and his energetic interaction with the horns is worth the price of admission alone. Another highlight is the chugging percussion line beneath the subtle rising horns on “Origin.” The disc was recorded live at the Baked Potato, one of L.A.’s most open-minded clubs where folks will listen even if the hook takes a few minutes to get to. Anyone who thinks jazz fusion isn’t hip anymore should get a load of this one.Jonathan Widran