Kent Miller is known for his laid back double bass playing, consisting of less splash and more dependability than, say, Charles Mingus, the band-leading bass player most folks will conjure up for comparison. Miller's band largely fits in the groove of '60s jazz and seems very comfortable there, inviting natural comparisons to any of the jazz groups that bassists Ron Carter and Paul Chambers were in over the years. One of the standout tunes on Contributions is an ode to Modern Jazz Quartet bassist Percy Heath which winds up with a suitably understated but massively swinging bass solo. Kent Miller and company pull off this classic jazz sound with unpretentious dedication.
Jazz pianist and composer Allesandro Fadini's compositions are a bit busy for this listener's tastes, perhaps underscoring Fadini's other passion, mathematics. There's something exhausting in the detail Fadini goes into with his playing, seemingly never missing a single note in his aggressive runs and solos. A Dark and Stormy Day isn't necessarily formulaic, but one does get the sense that Fadini is trying to prove something with his über-proficient piano playing, perhaps leaving his groove behind on occasion. That said, Fadini might be one musician to catch on stage where things are less predictable than the studio.
Yeah, Dmitri Matheny is a black beret wearing, flugelhorn playing, jazz poet cliché—but he pulls it off sincerely and with a filmic sound straight out of the darkest and most complex '50s crime films while injecting spoken word that keeps the listener following the bouncing dot. Albuquerque jazz fans will find something to compare Matheny to in our own Mark Weber, who often performs some jazz-backed, noir-themed spoken word during his Thursday hosting of KUNM's “All That Jazz” radio program. Jazz Noir isn't as funny as Ken Nordine, but what is? If you like those Kerouac albums with Steve Allen backing his reading, you'll probably dig Jazz Noir.