Choose To Find
Independent release, 2006
REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/02/2007
What is jazz?
Is it Miles Davis jamming in a smoky club with one of his classic 50s quintets? Eddie Harris dazzling 70s hipsters with free-form electric sax? Quincy Jones literally playing it cool, making orchestral soul music? Bob James pushing a melody catchy enough to pass for pop?
Jazz, it seems to me, isn’t so much a genre of music as it is an attitude. It’s freedom, improvisation, cross-pollination; it’s innovative, unselfconscious, bold.
And bold is definitely one of the first words that comes to mind when contemplating an instrumental-only quartet that attempts to meld classic jazz chops with melodic rock flair and occasional outbreaks of punkish musical anarchy. One thing I know for sure, I’ve never heard anything quite like Choose To Find, and don’t expect to again anytime soon.
The band – pianist/songwriter Todd Marston, guitarist Colin Sapp, bassist Dmitry Ishenko and drummer Michael Daillak -- is comprised of graduates of the renowned Berklee College of Music, and their training definitely shows in the intricacy and confidence of these tunes. What’s more surprising, given that bio, is how far these guys push outside the known boundaries of the forms they trained in. Calling this ”jazz” feels somewhat like calling
In several cases, Choose To Find pull the equivalent of a compositional practical joke on the listener, getting you settled in a groove like the gentle, dreamy one that anchors “Family” before sending the track off in wild psychedelic spirals in middle section. Eventually they right the ship, with Marston’s piano steering the rest of the group back to the core melody line even as Sapp counter-punches with trembly, distorted riffs.
In a similar vein, “Honesty” finds Marston filling the front end with a repeating piano pattern as Sapp weaves guitar lines over and under like a bird in flight, before they again ride the cut right off the rails into almost atonal chaos in the middle section.
Ranging farther afield, “Low Horse, High Horse” powers through an appealing, rather early-Bruce Hornsby central piano/bass melody, laying back here and there for some nice fills and hi-hat work from Daillak. The more expansive “Farewell Song” features steady rock drive and a cinematic feel, sort of like a mid-80s U2 instrumental -- unless you count the jazzy drum solo at the bridge.
It’s sometimes hard to get your bearings when the music is this unusual and gutsy. I wouldn’t call this disc an easy listen, but for the listener who can keep up, it’s a vastly entertaining safari into unexplored musical territory.
That said, is it jazz? Well, it’s bold, innovative, free-form, diverse and shows off great musical chops. Isn’t that enough?