For decades, Jack Mouse has been a sideman for a long list of jazz greats, but Range of Motion represents his debut as a leader. Collaborating with several other Chicago-based musicians (Art Davis,trumpet; Scott Robinson, woodwinds; John McLean, guitar; Bob Bowman and Kelly Sill, bass), he has put together a terrific set of his original compositions.
Mouse?s high-energy and surehanded drumming is displayed front and center, but this is not simply a vanity project. Mouse?s playing is expansive and complementary to every musician on every track. In the variety of textures and colors he creates, I find similarities with the late Paul Motian, especially in the free-form duet with saxophonist and longtime friend Scott Robinson that closes the album.
Not only is the drumming spot on, the compositions are beguiling and sophisticated. A good example of his compositional dexterity is the tune ?Mean Streak,? which utilizes metric modulation. Mouse displays dexterity with a variety of styles, too: A funky tune, ?Hip Check,? is followed by an Afro-Cuban number, the aptly named, ?Raucus Caucus,? a tune he wrote during his tenure with the Chicago Jazz Quintet.
Anyone can hear why Mouse is known as a dependable timekeeper, but with this release we can experience the depth of his creativity and spirit of collaboration.