Chicago-based bassist Bryan Doherty makes his debut on Origin Records with Rigamarole. The recording, while containing a number of different styles of music all strongly reminiscent of music from other bandleaders ("Zigurat," for example, would not be out of place paired with the milder music recorded by Chick Corea's Return To Forever band), does have moments of individuality.
The strength of the recording lies in the rhythm section work between Doherty, drummer Michael Raynor of Von Freeman fame and percussionist Javier Saume. This trio crafts a strongly resilient and open-eared base from which the other musicians are able to hang the melodic and harmonic frame. As a bassist, Doherty's lines support the melodies rather than create counterpoint to them, which is fine because all of the compositions are pleasantly tuneful. Raynor's drum set playing is notably supple on tunes like "Around The Block In Glendale," as he negotiates the piece's turns and his chops really come through on "No Mode" and "Corned Beef."
Tenor saxophonist Louis Stockwell of the Mulligan Mosaics Big Band and Chicago Jazz Ensemble has, at times, an unconventional tone that mixes well with John McLean's guitar and Marcin Fahmy's Fender Rhodes. Stockwell's solos throughout show a penchant for dryness, preferring to work within the harmonic structure rather than extending it.
Guitarist John McLean, who has worked extensively with Patricia Barber, is featured at length on the sweetly rolling "Baby Nostradamus." This almost smooth jazzish piece harkens back to a time in jazz, namely the 1970s, when beautiful playing was allowed to be a be-all and end-all in and of itself. His lines truly sing and he is one to certainly watch for in the future.
Marcin Fahmy's keyboard playing is the picture of understatement. While he comes forward at times, as on the fusion themed "Corned Beef," for the most part, his playing is tucked in the background and consists of sustained block chords. While this would be a negative on many recordings, it's a positive here because he not only understands his role in these compositions, but also has great feeling in finding ways to balance the chordal duties with McLean's aggressive playing. Overall, a respectable debut.