Peter Paulsen Sextet
"Change of Scenery"

(Wahbo Records)
Change of Scenery

Review by Brad Walseth

Sometimes I could just kick myself. This recording by Philadelphia-area bassist Paulsen is one that I've had for quite some time this year and have been meaning to review, but it just kept falling through the cracks. Which is a shame, because this release is a true gem, filled with remarkable compositions and musicianship and deserving of a wider audience.

Paulsen says the opening title track was influenced by the music of Tomas Stanko and Christof Komeda, yet it has a distinctive American flavor to it. This wonderful composition includes a tasty solo from Paulsen on acoustic bass and makes stunning use of the reed and horn players. Greg Riley on bass clarinet and soprano sax, Chris Bacas on soprano and tenor sax and Bob Meashey on trumpet and flugelhorn produce a palette that is stunning in its beauty. Drummer Joe Mullen and pianist Matt Hochmiller add important elements to this shimmering display of chamber jazz.

The rousing, "Tight Lipped" is a blast, featuring ever-changing tempos, dynamics and lines of varying lengths, while "In and Of Itself" is a lovely ballad with haunting textures and extended lines. The nearly 14-minute "Triple Pairs" plays two against three in a delightful 7/4 polyrhythmic journey, while the group improvised "Random Width" is a kaleidoscopic adventure that lives up to its name - starting as a burner before mutating. "B's B" is based on Coltrane, but given a South African "Township" treatment, while an incendiary take on Wayne Shorter's "Nefertiti" ends this stellar set on a high note.

Paulsen certainly rose to the opportunity of utilizing the expanded sonic possibilities inherent in the sextet format following 2005's interesting "Tri-Cycle" release, and he has made it clear that he is a new voice in the world of jazz who should be watched closely.

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