With his Kora Band and Portland Jazz Composers Orchestra, hard-working young keyboardist Andrew Oliver has become a mainstay of this city's jazz scene. His high-energy second sextet release gets the precipitation percentage wrong, but just about everything else right.
82% Chance of Rain is an eclectic collection, but a year of honing these 10 tracks has allowed them to benefit from the variety of the composers? well-integrated yet distinctive styles, rather than sounding like several different bands. Oliver's own memorably melodic compositions (?Inattentive Attendant,? ?800 Turtles,? ?Biannual/Biennial?) tend to be fairly straight ahead, even playful (?Very Small Island?); throughout, he makes smart use of retro tech like the Fender Rhodes and Wurlitzer electric piano without sounding merely throwback.
Guitarist Dan Duval's pieces (?Public and Republic,? ?Only a Quality Lime for Eric Gruber #1?) unleash some crunchy electric-guitar excitement, while drummer Kevin Van Geem's contributions (like ?Bolivar? and the title cut) add an indie-rock vibe. And saxman Willie Matheis scores with a warm ballad, ?I Am Yours.? Matheis (tenor and soprano sax) and Mary-Sue Tobin (alto and soprano saxes and clarinet) contribute soaring lines that herald the ascension of a generous, diverse band that can appeal to fans of new jazz as well as older genres like fusion and post-bop.