Saturday, March 18, 2017

Unified Vision: The Music of "Tetraptych"

Tetraptych: Max Ridley b, Hery Paz  ts, Bert Seager p, Dor Herskovits dr
The definition of the word Tetraptych ( Tet-trup-tick) is a picture made up of four parts or four panels. Each panel can stand on its own as a complete picture, but together the four make for a more expansive and unified theme. Now it can also be defined as a talented group of four musicians, each capable of their own voice, who together have create a unified musical vision that is much bigger than any could produce individually.

The musicians that make up Tetrapytch are pianist Bert Seager, Hery Paz on tenor saxophone; Max Ridley on upright bass and Dor Herskovits on drums. The songs, on this self-titled album, are all by Seager, with the exception of the free spirited “Equanimous Bosch” which was a group collaboration. Bert Seager has been a leading player around Boston as has bassist Max Ridley. Hery Paz is Cuban born and NYC based and Dor Herskovits is Israeli born and raised. The group has strong ties to the New England Conservatory of Music and their faculty.

From the opening syncopation of Herskovits drums on “Welcoming the Water,” to the conversational quality of Paz’s tenor and Ridley’s bass, you can tell this is a working band following their own path. Composer’s Seager’s stacatto piano, in tandem with Paz’s tenor, establish the traces of a melodic line; an intriguing repeating cadence that has a rumbling, modernistic AfroCuban pulse, with Ridley in intuitive counterpoint. The quartet smoothly transitions into a progressive hard bop section where Paz’s precise, Bergonzi-like intonation and Seager’s deft lyricism are on display. A Herskovits drum solo-featured at about the eight-minute mark- is like a jeweled centerpiece to this intriguing collaboration. The song closes stirringly with the group rejoining in a grand restatement of the theme in a unified musical vision.

Seamlessly Seager’s solo piano introduces Paz’s eerie, vocal tenor sounds that opens the start of “Last Snow”.  This operatic piece features Ridley’s arco-bass under Seager’s classical sounding piano and Herskovits shimmering cymbal work. It is Paz’s fierce and pleading tenor that takes the lead role, bellowing like Pavarotti in I Pagliacci, until the finale when his horn barely whispers in his forlorn breath.

The intro to “Star Wise” has a film noir sound accentuated by Paz’s echoed tenor and Seager’s understated piano. The song, based on the jazz standard “Star Eyes,” morphs into a straight swinger with Ridley’s firm, pulsing bass leading the way. Paz’s surprisingly adventurous solo is a model of harmonic invention. Seager’s piano solo is also pushes the boundaries of the song’s melodic structure. Ridley’s quicksilver bass is the glue that holds this one together.

The freely improvised “Equanimous Botch” is a study in how ideas can evolve communally when band members have spent some time together and find they have developed a universal mind. The group interaction is intuitive and crisp.

“Distances” has the deliberate pace of choreography. Perhaps a slow Tango best describes the feel of this musical movement between Seager’s piano and Paz’s tenor. Each one embracing the other’s moves in one sensuous and symbiotic motion. Paz’s voluptuous tenor is a marvel of sensitivity and restraint.

“Blues You Can Use” is a ¾ time swinger, with Herskovits and Ridley providing the unerring groove and Seager deftly comping as an unleashed Paz roars over the changes with a Coltrane-like intensity. Seager’s solo work is accentuated with Tyner-like block chording and fleet right handed invention. Ridley and Herskovits have a spirited exchange before the group returns to the main vamp, ending it all with flurry and punctuation.

This is fresh, inventive music at its finest. Hopefully we will hear more from Seager and Tetrapytch.

Check out "Star Wise" on Soundcloud:

No comments:

Post a Comment