This sax/bass/guitar/drums quartet struck me on first listen as a group that Steely Dan might hire for a recording session. The sound is crisp and clean, modern, with sharp lines and well-defined, ear-grabbing tangents. And democratic, as opposed to a sax-in-front-of-a-rhythm section affair. Then I heard some Pat Metheny shadings when guitarist David White brings the guitar synthesizer into the mix; but the sound is friskier than Metheny's, the group more concise in the collaboration.
The collective sound is the key. Big Neighborhood weaves an upbeat but hard-to-categorize geometrical tapestry with odd meters and buoyant rhythms.
The compositions�all, with the exception of Jobim's "Tristed," are by guitarist David White or bassist Doug Miller�push the jazz tradition forward with a finely focused sound. With the forward lean to the proceedings, alto saxophonist Chris Fagan plays his lines: "...straight... realizing his musical self... rooted in the blues," as writes saxophonist Tim Armacost, who penned the fine liner notes to the disc.
In addition to the collective sound, another key�and this took a few listens to "get"�is drummer Phil Parisot, an inspired and quirkily orchestral timekeeper who comes up with a startling number of fresh ideas per tune, without beating you over the head with them, in a seamless blend-into-the-group-sound mode. He blends into it and makes it better, giving it some bounce and pop.
A group to keep an eye and ear on in the future; a group to listen to right now.