Dr. Perry Alexander

The University of Kansas

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At the Edge - John Crowley

John Crowley was not a name I had heard before discovering At the Edge on iTunes. I forgot what lead me there - most likely Ari Hoering - but I’ve been enjoying this album quite a bit recently. If you like your jazz with a post-bop feel and lots of trumpet, fender-rhodes, and tasty drumming, this is definitely an album for you.

The album opens with a very short throw-away track called In Real Life. Basically very nice chords, but not much else going on. Nothing bothersome, but rather uneventful. Don’t turn it off though as it flows immediately into Find Me - my favorite track on the album. It’s a romp with double-time drumming underneath beautiful, simple horn and keyboard work. The trumpet and sax lines both float over the drumming until the fender rhodes takes off on a double-time solo that matches the drumming. Definitely something to pay attention to.

…And Then One Day, It’s All Over takes things way down in tempo and complexity. It’s a rather short track that features just trumpet and bass. Again, don’t turn it off as it drops quickly into the title track that is a more subtle version of Find Me. Outstanding percussion again with lots of rhodes and trumpet, but much quieter. Still wonderful.

Track 6 - Sadness, Suffering, Hope, Triumph starts a three track sequence that I really love. Sadness, Suffering, Hope, Triumph starts as a simple ballad that is expertly performed. The feature soloist is the trumpet, carefully avoiding pyrotechnics for beautiful sound and big notes. Wonderful trumpet solo that features some great chops. After the trumpet solo, Sadness, Suffering, Hope, Triumph takes off like a shot featuring the alto and fender. The drummer is right there as well. The interplay between sax, keyboards and drums is what really caught my ear.

Because You Believe starts similarly to Sadness, Suffering, Hope, Triumph with a very quiet and simple keyboard solo. Instead of taking off like a shot, it falls immediately into Progress. There’s nothing particularly distinctive about Progress other than being an understated, great small ensemble track. I’ll mention the drummer again who is just kicking and working hard to great end.

The remaining tracks are all quite good, with Fixation being my favorite of the bunch. Like Find Me it features the trumpet and alto over a double-time drum track. Once again very nice. If you enjoy lyrical trumpet, don’t stop listening before the last track, These Four Walls that ties a beautiful bow on the entire album.

At the Edge makes me think of Chick Corea for some reason. It’s not like it sounds that similar, there’s just a feel there that makes me think of him in a very good way. John Crowley’s trumpet work is so understated and wonderful. No screaming runs into the stratosphere, just good, creative playing within the ensemble. But what really makes this album is the drumming. Wow. Ziv Ravitz is simply stunning without being over-the-top.