(Bennett Paster: 2012, Self-Released)
Bennett Paster (piano), Joel Frahm (tenor sax), Tim Armacost (tenor and soprano sax), Alex Norris (trumpet), Gregory Ryan (bass), Willard B. Dyson Jr. (drums), Gilad (percussion)
All compositions by Bennett Paster, © Wurliboy Music (SESAC)
Depth and maturity are evident traits heard in Paster’s compositions. His writing blends concrete thematic material into a thick harmonic base, mindful of the individual flavorings brought forth by his band mates. Relentless Pursuit of the Beautiful features Paster in a dazzling display of technique and boundless creativity.
John Barron, 2/9/13 thejazzword
Relentless Pursuit of the Beautiful is a broad-based modern jazz recording showcasing the compositions and piano playing of Bennett Paster, one of NYC’s most versatile musicians. Joined by six masterful instrumentalists, he effortlessly integrates swing with Latin and Brazilian rhythms to forge a contemporary, accessible style. Recorded one sweltering July day in Brooklyn after a series of monthly performances at Greenwich Village music club The 55 Bar, the album vividly captures snapshots in the ensemble’s development. Their group interplay and unwavering melodicism render a rich, eminently listenable music that draws in the listener and brings them along on their journey.
To me, writing and playing music has always been a mysterious and intuitive process. I rarely approach it with my intellect leading the way. Over time I have learned to tap into my inner voice, to trust it and to let it flow. I’m constantly striving to make my music simple, more essential; to strip away unnecessary artifice and adornment. Relentless Pursuit of the Beautiful is a celebration of those efforts. “The Beautiful” to which the title refers isn’t traditional aesthetic beauty, rather it’s honest musical expression from within. This expression forms the core of my sound. It incorporates a wide spectrum of emotions using sonic textures and colors which create a picture of life through music.
Life in general and music in particular seem to be becoming ever more complicated. Conversely, I’m trying to find the shortest distance between musical inspiration and it’s expression. The improvisational process in jazz has long sought to minimize that disconnect. But the compositional process is similar to making a sculpture, refining an idea little by little until it’s perfect. Lately, I’ve been trying to find a way to preserve the spontaneity of improvisation in my compositions. Many of the songs in this collection were composed away from the piano using only a pencil and staff paper, letting my inner melodic sense be my compass. These particular songs come from my heart and mind, not the familiar pathways that my fingers comfortably tread when I compose at a keyboard. In the others that I did discover at the piano, I’ve sought to preserve the initial inspiration at the genesis of the idea.
The exceptional musicians on this recording have helped bring these ideas and this music to life. They animated the static ideas from paper into joyous noise, effortlessly balancing the written and the free elements in each song. I’m thankful to them all for their contributions to this project and to you, the listener for joining us on this journey in pursuit of this elusive beauty. Thanks for listening!
Bennett Paster, Brooklyn, NY July 2012
Produced by Bennett Paster
Recorded by Joshua Kessler and Bennett Paster, July 20, 2011 at Benny’s Wash n’ Dry Studio, Brooklyn, NY
Mixed by Bennett Paster at Benny’s Wash n’ Dry Studio
Mastered by Ed Littman at Ed Littman Mastering