Purists may wrinkle their brow over the liberties taken with this material or the occasional over-wrought vocal but the 11 arrangers for the 11 songs, for this listener, make the Brussels Jazz Orchestra the true stars of the show. Save for a few ill-advised vocal approaches, just roll with it and you will find many enjoyable moments. For more information, go to www.brusselsjazzorchestra.com.
The second group of 5 tracks features Peterson's Sextet, blending the trumpet work of Sean Jones with saxophonists Walter Smith III (tenor) and Tia Fuller (alto and soprano) with the rhythm section of Hartford, CT natives Luques Curtis (bass) and his brother Zaccai (piano - replaced by Berklee grad and Peterson student Victor Gould on the final 2 cuts). Tenor saxophonist Edwin "Eddie" Bayard joins the Sextet for 2 tracks, including the fiery "Pinnacle" that closes the program. Everyone shines on this cut, from Jones' explosive solo to the dialogue of the 2 tenors to Gould's sprightly spot, all done over the solid drive of the Peterson and Luques Curtis. The drummer, for his flash and fire, truly knows how to write a fine melody. "You Have Know Idea" is dedicated to Peterson's wife - one can hear the joy in the lively percussion interchange of the leader with Dejesus plus there are fine solos from Ms. Fuller (on alto) and Jones. The title track has a handsome melody line and full sound, built off the rich chordal work of Zaccai Curtis and the section work of the front line. Smith's solo shows his warmer side (his playing always seems to have a strong emotional element), followed by an equally touching alto solo.
One can hear the connection to classic Blue Note recordings of the 1950s and 60s in the horn arrangements and in Peterson's "leading from the drums", a la Art Blakey. Yet, both the Fo'Tet and Sextet play music that has contemporary elements and Ralph Peterson has matured into a musician with a strong artistic vision and sound. He always could "bring the fire" but now his ballad work is often tender, soft and uncluttered. "The Duality Perspective" also shows Peterson to be a fine teacher with students that are quickly moving out of the classroom and into the public eye with voices that will hopefully be heard for many years to come. For more information, go to ralphpetersonmusic.com.