monoblogue music: “Over The Edge” by The Pearcy/Gratzmiller Jazz Quintet

I am going to freely admit to you that I am about as far from an aficionado on jazz as Boston is from the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I don’t think that in almost five years of doing these reviews that I have ever come across what the artists describe as “modern hard bop jazz.”

So I also have to admit it’s a little difficult for me to say whether this is a great or groundbreaking album. Another problem with having ten instrumental songs is distinguishing them by title, since the title of any particular song is completely up for interpretation.

To me, jazz composition has a similarity to listening to a jam band, one which has no problem taking a song and noodling and doodling around with it until you realize they’ve been playing the same thing for 15 or 20 minutes. Think Peter Frampton’s Do You Feel Like We Do or Green Grass And High Tides by the Outlaws as examples – already long songs in the studio, they were improvised to maximum DJ smoke break length while in concert. While the songs on “Over The Edge” range from four to nine minutes in length (the compilation of ten songs lasts 68 minutes) they could easily be twice as long performed live if they like the groove.

So the way I listened to it, once I caught on to the trick of the genre, was to use it a little bit like background noise. But I couldn’t help noticing how tight the songs sounded despite the fact they were freeform compositions. Unlike rock, which tends to be progressive in its chord structure, there’s no set formula for jazz, which allows any of the five instruments involved (or combinations of same) to take a lead role while others provide a rhythm or harmony. 

The creators stated their intention: “to create a modern album that classic jazz listeners could also enjoy. We made an effort to capture the spirit and tradition of classic quintets from 50’s and 60’s while mixing in modern elements, particularly in the areas rhythm and song form.” If you’re a classic jazz listener, I wouldn’t hesitate to tell you what I tell people in most of my reviews: don’t let this fish out of water be the judge, go ahead (despite it being the dreaded Spotify) and listen for yourself.