Jesse Peterson Quartet
Man of the Earth
(ears&eyes Records / ee:18-o77)
Pre-orders available: June 28th 2018
CD/Digital Release date: July 13th 2018
Genre(s): bouncy, modern jazz
- NYC Release show/party at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 3, 8:30pm on July 15 (tickets: https://www.ticketfly.com/event/1706498)
- Previous student of Dave King (The Bad Plus)
- This release pays homage to Jesse late father, whose capacity for earnest work and play inspired some of the songs and shaped his son’s approach to music overall.
- The Jesse Peterson Quartet makes jazz feel fresh and knowing, fierce and good-natured. Man of the Earth invites audiences to move, to imagine, to listen in on stories and impressions and meditations from an inspired composer and four compelling musical voices worth the airtime.
- Jesse Peterson – drums/compositions (Industrial Road Music)
- Adam Schneit – sax (of Kenny Wollensen, Chris Lightcap)
- Jorn Swart – piano
- Andrew Schiller – bass
In its debut album, Man of the Earth, the Jesse Peterson Quartet springs into jazz, pounces on it. Drums, bass, sax, and piano arrive fully conscious from the first minute, ready to tussle and muse through these eight evocative compositions by Jesse Peterson. The performances are energetic and smart, and the recordings capture a group of musicians caught up in the euphoria of invention, precision, and play. Peterson’s unique brand of Midwestern-grown melodic indie jazz does not tread with a light, sophisticate’s step. Despite their subtlety and wit, these songs feel sturdy, hearty, corn-fed. This jazz leaves tracks in the mud.
The title track, ‘Man of the Earth,’ shows off a tonal and rhythmic diversity that characterizes the album. Raw pentatonic patterns provide a foundation for a colorful, complex melody that ascends and swirls above. An easy swing parries with driving subdivisions. Restraint and subtlety give way to kinetic crashes and splashes. Amid all this movement, the band shifts confidently, unified in improvisational freedom and in written lines.
The name of the album and title track refer to Peterson’s father, whose capacity for earnest work and play inspired some of the songs and shaped his son’s approach to music. He owned and operated a trucking and landscaping company for most of his life, and left an imprint that can be felt in the hulking joie de vivre of these songs. This rootedness in earth and family tethers the complexity and experimentation of the album to something narrative, grounded.
Peterson, as a composer and drummer, takes us places. He puts on jazz as a lens and sees America. These songs describe the America he grew up in, rural Minnesota, a realm of space, humble earthbound hymns and motor oil. They also show us his home in New York City, a brusque, impatient world, clogged with humans and clamoring with ambition. Throughout the album, these two locales sometimes appear with distinction, clarity, but at other times they meet, they comment on each other, they clash and step on each other’s toes.
Songs like ‘Hibbing BMX Life Experience’ and ‘Bucko is Relocating’ also show Peterson’s range of musical influence. He doesn’t shy away from the fun of up-tempo rock, brassy Broadway grandeur, or the gleeful quarter-note drive of mashing keys. These pronounced styles become the object of the band’s commentary, as the players alternately lose themselves in the spirit of each moment, and then turn the themes into opportunities for variation, deconstruction.
Thus Man of the Earth becomes a series of arrivals and departures, at times landing in a place of familiarity, nostalgia, and warmth, only to lift off in the next moment, soaring into abstraction. ‘The Factors’ begins with a minimalist cycle of bass and drums. Sax and piano sing along, sometimes gracing the established key, at other times resisting, pulling up into an airy bitonality. This opening gives way to a second movement, a rousing Afro-Cuban groove with a cascading melody floating over it. In this section, the sax shifts in and out of structured melody, accenting the formal strength of the song with bursts of improvisation. The song grows and matures and leaves home, but finds its way back in the end. Conceptually and musically, Peterson follows this cycle throughout the album, a cycle that loops and spirals and soars, yet always begins and ends in the same elements, the same clay.
The album displays the quartet’s stellar musicianship in ‘Have a Winnebago Winter,’ which opens with a shimmering riot of drums. Listeners can delight in Peterson’s technical command of the set, noting the rapid, confident interplay of patterns, tempi, and traditions. But he employs his craft with purpose. Peterson positions his drumming in different roles throughout the album, sometimes playing the rowdy and talkative star, sometimes a supportive role, but in every instance, Peterson’s mind, heart, and hands work together to turn the set into a voice, an expressive tool. A minute into ‘Winnebago Winter,’ the bass steps in from the drum break with a sly, probing line, the piano tumbles in from on high, lands on the bass line to parallel it, fatten it. As soon as the group settles into a groove, Peterson enlivens it, finding rhythmic pockets that are somehow mathematical and soulful, making for a sound that is at once versatile and coherent. This quartet maneuvers boldly, decisively, bringing character to each articulate song.
Peterson writes and plays with feeling. These melody-driven songs each speak of something human. ‘Fer da Kids’ gives us a grown-up looking back at the pure frivolity of childhood, a rousing revisitation tinged with longing. ‘You Remember Mort’ delivers a poignant eulogy, a gray interior, and a progression that paces back and forth between solace and tension. And in ‘Blessing in Between,’ a wistful passage sets the stage for an epic climb, and we hear quiet introspections become strivings, strainings, a crescendo of earnest emotion. No matter what the feeling, Peterson engages it directly, writing from the gut, never washing off the grit of memory, grief, or glory.
The Jesse Peterson Quartet makes jazz feel fresh and knowing, fierce and good-natured. Man of the Earth invites audiences to move, to imagine, to listen in on stories and impressions and meditations from an inspired composer and four compelling musical voices worth the airtime.
Releases on Chicago-based independent label, ears&eyes Records, on July 13th 2018.
- Website: jessepetersonmusic.com
- BandCamp: jessepetersonquartet.bandcamp.com
- FaceBook: facebook.com/jessepetersonquartet
- SoundCloud: soundcloud.com/jessepeterson
- YouTube: channel
- ears&eyes Records: www.earsandeyesrecords.com, earsandeyesrecords.bandcamp.com, twitter.com/earseyesRecords, soundcloud.com/earseyesrecords, facebook.com/earsandeyesrecords, instagram.com/earsandeyesrecords, YouTube Channel
Jesse Peterson hails originally from northern Minnesota. He graduated from the University of Minnesota, where he studied percussion with Fernando Meza and Phil Hey and music composition with Judith Zaimont. Off-campus he studied regularly with and drew inspiration from fellow Minnesotan drummer/composer Dave King (The Bad Plus/ Happy Apple). After co-founding various jazz and rock groups in Minneapolis and Boston, he has led the NYC-based Jesse Peterson Quartet since 2013. Their debut recording, Man of the Earth, will be released July 13, 2018 on Ears & Eyes Records.
Saxophonist, clarinetist, and composer Adam Schneit grew up in Portland, Maine, and has made Brooklyn his home since 2006. He earned a Master’s degree in Jazz Performance from the New England Conservatory of Music, where he studied with esteemed artists including Steve Lacy and Bob Brookmeyer. Since moving to New York, he has contributed to the work of performers in a range of genres, from jazz musicians to singer-songwriters. He leads the Adam Schneit Band, is a co-leader of Old Time Musketry, and regularly plays as a sideman in a number of groups, including the Anna Weber/Angela Morris Big Band and the Jesse Peterson Quartet. In December 2016 the Adam Schneit Band (featuring Sean Moran, guitar; Eivind Opsvik, bass; and Kenny Wollesen, drums) released its first album, Light Shines In, on Fresh Sounds New Talent Records.
Jorn Swart is a spirited up-and-coming jazz pianist, composer, and arranger, currently living and performing in NYC. The Dutch pianist’s refined playing and emotive compositions have garnered him much recognition, here and abroad. In November, 2013 he toured Europe to present his debut CD, A Day in the Life of Boriz, featuring some of NYC’s most thrilling and fearless jazz musicians. In May 2017 Swart released his sophomore album Malnoia on Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records.
Over the last decade, Andrew Schiller has moved from Phoenix to Boston to New York City, working as both a bandleader and sideman in various musical styles—the bulk of his concentration on jazz and improvised music. He has performed his music all over the world at venues like Cornelia Street Cafe (NYC), the Jazz Showcase (Chicago), the Panama Jazz Festival, and as a guest artist with the National Symphony of Paraguay in Asunción. Andrew holds a master’s degree from the New England Conservatory where his mentors included Dave Holland, Billy Hart, and Ralph Alessi. In 2012, he was recognized in Downbeat Magazine for his work as a soloist and was awarded the ASCAP Young Composers Grant in February 2014. In 2017 he released his debut record, Tied Together, Not to the Ground, on Red Piano Records.