This music has so many delightful moments. The trumpet and bass introduce the theme of "Deeper" over Mr. Hart's dancing brush work; when Tepfer enters, he creates the counterpoint that propels the piece forward. Martin's melodic bass solo gives way to Raymond's pleasing jaunt (listen to how the drummer and pianist dance right along). The lengthy legato intro to "Chant" has a gravitas that gives way to the formal melody section that has a Native American feel, the bass lines (from both Martin and Tepfer) have a hypnotic feel that is heightened during the fine piano solo. The Wheeler piece, "Mark Time", has a winding melody line used forward by the muscular drive of the rhythm section. Raymond's trumpet solo features an exciting interaction with Tepfer's dancing piano lines -still, listen to how Mr. Hart leads the band forward and then directs the piece to its quiet finish. The program closes with "Adventurous-Lee", a high-energy boppish piece with a cheery melody that shows the quartet at its best. There are moments when it seems like all 4 lock into the piece, then each goes their own way, then come back together in the true nature of jazz, exploratory and exciting.
John McNeil, whose production credits will soon rival those of his recording credits, produced this gem and one imagines all he needed to say was "Roll the tapes." In many ways, "Foreign Territory" is "the sound of surprise" at its best. Even when you return for the 10th or 100th time, you cannot escape how fresh this music is, how spontaneous and joyous in is execution, how good it feels to hear musicians having fun "creating". This music, created by John Raymond, Billy Hart, Dan Tepfer and Joe Martin, may be "Foreign Territory" but one should have no fear of joining them on the journey.
For more information, go to www.johnraymondmusic.net. Check out the itinerary for the Quartet. If you're in Connecticut and want to see this band live, go to firehouse12.com or call 203-785-0468.
Enjoy the title tune: