Also on Origin is Matt Jorgensen +451, one of the most impressive live jazz bands in this region, with the potential to impress far afield. Their live performances are at times stunning -- supertight and driving. On disc, as live, the quartet has great confidence. Listening to them, you really do believe that there is every reason why their sound is arrayed their way, which, when you think about it, is a most curious thing.
, the band's first album since 2004's Hope
, reflects those qualities. It is not quite as electrifying as a live show, and somewhat more conservative over all -- fair enough, as the goals and methods of a recorded album may well differ from those of a live performance. But there is, as on stage, a sense of shape and purpose, and impressive sympathy between the instruments.
The disc does, however, suggest some of the risks of stoking a repertoire with pop songs. One, the harrying Lennon-McCartney number, "Helter Skelter," here is considerably defanged. The original was a Beatles high point -- a place where even the pop-skeptical had to stand in awe of the band's resources, or at least of producer George Martin's.
Then, there's Neil Young's "Ohio." The latter is a bit dreary. Young took the original slow and mournful because his voice and the track's instrumentation could impart a sense of an era being slashed by bullets and barbed wire. That's a tall order to follow. Here, at times, Mark Taylor's alto and Ryan Burns' Fender Rhodes both risk slithering into smooth-jazz territory.