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Friday, April 12, 2013

Marc Riordan Quartet - Binoculars (Club Nerodia, 2012) ***½

By Philip Coombs

Like any explorer, the challenge is to push yourself further than the last guy. Your map then becomes the cornerstone, the pinnacle of any wanderer that comes after. On this record, Marc Riodan decides to drop his drum kit and portage a piano from his previous river, through the brush in search of a better river or even an ocean. Binoculars is the travelogue of his adventure.

Every journey on sea requires a muster and the seafarers on this mission are as follows.
On saxophone - Peter Hanson
On bass - Daniel Thatcher
On Drums - Tim Daisy ( Being comfortable with two sticks, brushes, bells, cymbals, mops, mallets, paddles, or oars, Daisy is the perfect choice to propel any vessel unrelentingly forward.)

"Little Dog". Even though Riordan has given up the rhythm in search of the melody, it is very clear throughout this track that the old sea sirens still haunt him. The interplay between the alto sax and the very percussive piano makes for very entertaining listening indeed. The quartet cleverly skirts around almost like they are shaking hands and introducing themselves on a pier waiting for the horn to signal the departure. Before it ends even Hanson gets in on the percussive attack and power as he spars with everyone during the track's conclusion.

"Funometer. The quartet tricks your ears with this one. It begins with a boppy pass that goes on just long enough to for an incorrect and premature opinion of things to come. It gets really good when the whole thing falls apart. Is that a hole? Its taking on water, all hands on deck.

There are beautiful moments all over this recording like the heavy handed melancholy of "Lesson Learned", or the coherence and musicianship of "Magnetic Personality", but the real gem for me is the title track. It starts with a searching bass, a beacon through the fog. When everyone else enters it finds the groove but yet finds a way to keep returning to a escalating chord pattern.

Can't say that the Marc Riordan Quartet redrew any maps on this outing but it is a document that highlights a musician that needs to wear different hats and varying numbers of stripes on his shoulders in order to stay afloat.

Is my canoe on the best river for me?

Here is "Little Dog"