Monday, January 9, 2012

Tom Wetmore The Desired Effect. Crosstown Records 2012

Street Date 01/17/2012

If the desired effect is to create and walk the musical tightrope between modern jazz and a slightly more retro-fusion approach then we can call it a day. Tom Wetmore's debut release is a brilliant offering from a fresh new voice that will have heads turning in no time. Original compositions coupled with a unique front line instrumentation creates a three dimensional harmonic depth of field.

In the moment, bit of a bumper sticker but sums up the overall feel of this release well. Wetmore's sextet has been called "eclectic" however original, innovative and cutting edge seem to express the desired effect  far better! A prolific composer, Wetmore writes on a daily basis with an on line diary available at With a front line of two lead guitar players and two saxophonists there are adventurous and incredibly lyrical contrapuntal lines that play as one harmonious voice. Musical synergy with a smoldering groove running just beneath the surface.

Wetmore likes to play with time signatures to keep things interesting but never to the extent of losing the lyrical development of the tune in question. "Red Lights" is an intriguing all most neo-soul number highlighted by one of the more overlooked saxophone players today in Jaleel Shaw. "Good and Plenty" is an expansive sonic exploratory with guitarists Brad Williams and Justin Sabaj exhibiting a symbiotic musical kinship that works incredibly well together.  Alto saxophonist Eric Neveloff also makes a substantial contribution to the development of this tune adding the right amount of texture to a rich sonic color palette exhibited throughout this piece. "Falling" is a bit more introspective but fits within the ebb and flow of the release perfectly. An ensemble with more than ample chops to shift dynamics on the fly without ever losing sight of the harmonic development which is the backbone of one of the most intricate pieces presented on this release. Bassist Michael League and drummer Garrett Brown anchor a first call rhythm section and work as the sonic glue that binds this ensemble together into one of the finest sextets working today.

The Desired Effect is literally a flawless work. The electric Rhodes piano has been heard on the occasional tune on numerous releases over the previous year but to utilize this instrument as the primary keyboard of choice is long overdue and in the hands of Wetmore is done with style, finesse and ingenuity.

A former editor often cautioned me about becoming too excited concerning a release and to never presume what the reader may take away from a recording. I get it, taste is subjective. The musical irony here is that Wetmore and I agree, allow yourself to be touched. Listen in the moment. We all react to audio stimuli in a different fashion but a shared perspective simply opens the door to new musical possibilities.

Tom Wetmore and this incredibly original ensemble display a musical cohesion rarely heard and sometimes never felt. Wetmore perhaps gives the best review of his own work with this quote from the liner notes, "I just want to put a little beauty into the world and make a few moments of life just a little more exceptional."

An exceptional release. A five star triumph and easily a critics pick for 2012!

Tracks: Red Lights; Wild Card; Good And Plenty; A Blessing; The Desired Effect; With Woven Wings; Falling; The Rub; More Matter.

Personnel: Tom Wetmore: electric piano; Jaleel Shaw: alto sax ( 1,2,4); Eric Neveloff: alto sax: (3,5,9)/tenor saxophone (1); Brad Williams: guitar; Justin Sabaj: guitar; Michael League: bass; Garrett Brown: drums.