The Pearcy/Gratzmiller Jazz Quintet impress with new album Over The Edge, bringing in both old and new jazz elements to create the perfectly paced and energetic hybrid.
Jazz has so many connotations and meanings to so many people that it can be hard to please and appeal to everyone. It shouldn’t always have to either. Jazz is unto itself and goes where it pleases, only wanting to prove itself to itself. But once in a while, a talented bunch of individuals manage to bridge the gap and appeal to both casual listeners and the hardcore crowds. The Pearcy/Gratzmiller Jazz Quintet have done just that with new record Over The Edge, using both classic jazz elements and up-to-date techniques forming a solid piece of work that’s hard for anyone not to like.
Beantown Bahp starts off the record, and you’re hit straight away with twisting and turning stops against modern jazz improvisational methods and an old-skool sound. You can here this quintet operating skillfully as both solo artists and a group, with Pearcy’s trumpet here especially taking an outstanding turn at the forefront of the track as the bass keeps everyone steady. The piano is happy to just meander on in a distinctive manner as everyone else sinks back into their stride.
Poor Man’s Doctor starts with a drum beat almost reminiscent of hip-hop, before calming down and seamlessly transitioning into compact melodies with blues connotations. The quintet are trying to mix old 50s/60s jazz with modern elements here, and it works very well.
Blues 88 is where we get our first taste of backhouse blues, and you can almost see the smoky atmosphere and seediness of a worn out downtown drinking joint. The track tos and fros around this bluesy beat, with piano allowed to stray off course before its dragged back in line by trumpet or sax. Yellow Mood’s beautifully crafted piano intro shows great composition before further instruments seamlessly slide in as if invited by an old friend, and the slow and sultry pace allows the track to really speak volumes in timing and dexterity. The quintet use this atmosphere to take their time and try out techniques that would be harder to make so pleasing on other, faster tracks.
The Defector helps show that contemporary jazz can still be soulful and fun, whilst also heralding back to its classic jazz elements. The way the band straddle between the old and new is impressive, especially as it’s also one of the most technical tracks on the record with some of the most intricate musicianship. Gratzmiller’s penchant for branching out on the sax is shown in full force here as he takes over in an energetic and cunning way to provide more body and presence to the piece.
Pieces Of Mind will leave you dizzy against the sheer amount of ideas that twists and turns throughout, with each member given free reign to come and go as they please in a musical sense. Album closer Feelings Of Summer’s cheery and demure nature with its sudden bursts of energy is the perfect way to end the record, with plenty of hard bop accompanied by great ideas that help the band sign off in a flourish of fun.
The jazz quintet should be proud of what they’ve achieved with Over The Edge. Combining both old and new ideas in such a unique and energetic way shows Pearcy and Gratzmiller as masters of composition that are not afraid to take risks. The record is perfect for both jazz connoisseurs and newbies to the genre, managing to be both melodic and technical in a way that compliments the music without being overbearing. Jazz needs this kind of joining of forces in order to keep it alive and well, and when something like this comes along, we’re guaranteed that the genre is in safe hands.
By Jamie Parmenter