Higgy Lerner Quartet
Jade Sketches is the new CD from local jazz group the Higgy Lerner Quartet. The opening title track, written by saxophonist/guitarist Robert Oates, is a slow, mood piece that, with Oates’ mournful tenor sax and guest artist Deric Binyon’s muted flugelhorn, nicely evokes images of the proverbial big city late at night. Trouble with Jade Sketches, though, is that there is too much reworking of a similar theme: long, slow, moody, with not a lot of rhythmic and sonic variety. By song three, Oates’ “Gad-Zooks,” I was already wanting a little peppy relief, especially since the song itself seems to cry out to be played at a much faster tempo, both because of its title and its content. The next song, pianist Lerner’s “Papa,” a little faster at first than the previous one, begins with a playful melody, but after an inexplicable break, becomes another slow, long (just over nine minutes), somewhat meandering piece. The mood music is nice, but I would like to see what would happen if the group took more chances in terms of musical ideas, tempos and dynamics.