Even at a time when jazz has broadened its horizons to encompass music from a wide variety of sources, it is not often that one happens upon a jazz album inspired by the life and music of Johann Sebastian Bach. However, that is the premise animating drummer Phil Parisot's sunlit Inventions, an astute post-bop session wherein Bach's muse may be present but whose point of view, exemplified by Parisot's stylish compositions, is decidedly contemporary.
The truth is, if Bach's name hadn't been invoked, there would be no way to discern his role in what is essentially an album of straight-ahead jazz with no discernible hint of the Baroque. But if Parisot says J. S. Bach served as his inspiration when composing (Parisot wrote all eight of the album's well-drawn numbers), that must be taken at face value. The music is certainly pleasant enough, even though there is a touch of Bach's trademark fugue only on the New Orleans-style "Pay It Forward" (it must be difficult to design a fugue for two horns, trumpet and tenor saxophone).
Speaking of those horns—trumpeter Jared Hall and tenor saxophonist Steve Treseler—they comprise a solid front line, blending well in unison and soloing capably, as does pianist Dan Kramlich. If there are more drum solos than usual, well, it is Parisot's date—and he is an excellent technician who swings hard and has plenty to say. Bassist Michael Glynn—who solos smartly on the easy-flowing "Compendium" and dream-like "For the Unseen" and is a firm anchor elsewhere—rounds out the quintet. The session's unabashed flag-waver, the aptly named "Running, Leaping"—which has superb solos by all hands, especially Parisot—comes near the end, leading to the melodious and mellow finale, "Noble Calling."
A well-dressed quintet, meticulously attired by Parisot whose enticing themes, even without Bach's mastery, are well worth hearing and enjoying.