Michael Pedicin

Jazz Improv Magazine Volume 8, Number 2
 
EVERY THING STARTS NOW – The Jazz Hut LLC.   Pelican; This Way Out; L.A. To Philly; One Of Us; Contours; After The Rainbow Is Over; Concatenation; Another Day; Later; Everything Starts Now.
 
PERSONNEL:  Michael Pedicin, tenor sax; Johnnie Valentino, guitar; Mick Rossi, piano; Chris Colangelo, bass; Michael Sarin, drums. 
 
By Scott Hockenberry  
 
everything starts now...Like most lovers of jazz, I occasionally have the good fortune to run across a recording that is somehow transcendent in its musical and artistic qualities. These are the types of works that make you reflect, think, and stretch the preconceived ways that you think about or hear in music. These works can be a great learning tool as they can reawaken or invigorate your own creative endeavors. Everything Starts Now, the latest solo release by Philadelphia based saxophonist Michael Pedicin, is one of those recordings.

Pedicin has been a well-known icon in the world of jazz in both the east coast and Los Angeles areas for a number of years. He has several prior solo releases under his belt and he has toured and recorded with some of the top names in the business, including Pat Martino, Dave Brubeck and Maynard Ferguson. As well as being hugely talented, working jazz saxophonist, Pedicin has an impressive resume that includes a couple of undergraduate degrees, and several post-graduate degrees such as a Doctorate in Music and a Ph. D. in Psychology. Besides his extensive history touring and recording, he also has managed to work professionally in the field of Psychology, and he has served on the faculties of the music departments at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and at Temple University.

Although his work on his earlier solo releases was consistent and quite good, this release shows his musical capabilities and expressive voice have elevated to new heights. Like fellow Philadelphia native Michael Brecker (whom Pedicin grew up with and has been stylistically compared to numerous times), he was strongly influenced by the playing of John Coltrane. Although this influence is evident in Pedicin’s playing, he has a very distinctive style, with a creative depth and sound that surpasses mere technical mastery of his instrument. He exhibits a deep understanding of the musical language, but uses it to forge new ideas. He is one of those rare individuals that is able to create images and convey emotion and meaning through his playing. Indeed, Pedicin truly seems to get what Coltrane taught us, and that is the idea that the instrument can be true medium to channel what is in your musical soul.
 
The disc includes nine original tunes written by the session’s guitarist, Johnnie Valentino, along with one tune penned by Eric Bazilian, titled “One Of Us.” Each of the original compositions is very well written and they include crafty, catchy, and memorable melody lines with interesting chord changes. The pieces range from serene ballads with flowing lines, to darting numbers in the vein of Jerry Bergonzi, to jagged straight-ahead pieces that sound like they could have come from the Monk Library.
 
The musicians on the recording were all well chosen for this date, as they display a very symbiotic blend and a unified direction. All of these musicians are sought-after sideman with numerous solo credits of their own, and they all provide terrific improvisational efforts throughout the recording. Guitarist Johnnie Valentino and pianist Mick Rossi compliment each other quite well and never step on each other’s toes. The playing of bassist Chris Colangelo and drummer Michael Sarin ranges from relaxed grooves to complex intensity, and they continually drive and propel each other.

All of the tunes make great individual statements and there are dynamic solos throughout. Pedicin’s magnetic technical chops are immediately evident with his fiery adventuresome solo in the tunes bright opener, “Pelican”. All of Pedicin’s improvisations are strong and he is often sublime. On “This Way Out” and “L.A. To Philly”, he swaggers and skips along using just the right amount of well placed harmonics as he colors and coaxes each note, so they each have a purpose in his overall scheme. In the ballads “One of Us”, and “Another Day”, he is more tenor. Those fans that are familiar with Pedicin’s muscular, technically driving playing exhibited in his earlier releases, won’t be disappointed here. That ability is still quite strong, and it is shown alongside a more subtle level of creative insight that comes with the wisdom and knowledge of experience.

The musicians on the recording were all well chosen for this date, as they display a very symbiotic blend and a unified direction. All of these musicians are sought-after sideman with numerous solo credits of their own, and they all provide terrific improvisational efforts throughout the recording. Guitarist Johnnie Valentino and pianist Mick Rossi compliment each other quite well and never step on each other’s toes. The playing of bassist Chris Colangelo and drummer Michael Sarin ranges from relaxed grooves to complex intensity, and they continually drive and propel each other.

All of the tunes make great individual statements and there are dynamic solos throughout. Pedicin’s magnetic technical chops are immediately evident with his fiery adventuresome solo in the tunes bright opener, “Pelican”. All of Pedicin’s improvisations are strong and he is often sublime. On “This Way Out” and “L.A. To Philly”, he swaggers and skips along using just the right amount of well placed harmonics as he colors and coaxes each note, so they each have a purpose in his overall scheme. In the ballads “One of Us”, and “Another Day”, he is more tenor. Those fans that are familiar with Pedicin’s muscular, technically driving playing exhibited in his earlier releases, won’t be disappointed here. That ability is still quite strong, and it is shown alongside a more subtle level of creative insight that comes with the wisdom and knowledge of experience.

The playing of guitarist Johnnie Valentino, who wrote most of the tunes on the album, goes far beyond traditional comping and a few nice solos. His presence sets the underlying tone for the date, and he provides exceptional mood and texture. At times his work reminds me of the ethereal playing you often hear from guitarists like Abercrombie or Frisell, but with a style that is definitely all his own. The tune “Everything Starts Now” very much reminded me of the feel of the work that Abercrombie and Brecker did together in the mid 80’s. It seems that Valentino had an overall concept in mind when writing these pieces as there is a unifying musical message heard throughout the album.

Pianist Mick Rossi, with whom Pedicin has worked numerous times over the years, provides some terrifically intriguing comping, counterpoint, and soloing throughout the entire program. Rossi, like Pedicin and Valentino, has the ability to conjure up some really thought-provoking improvisational lines that often catch you off guard. His chord choices, voicings, and rhythmic interpretations are unique and always appropriate.
 
Bassist Chris Colangelo stands out as well, displaying some adept technique with a fantastic woody and centered sound, and he provides an exceptional solo effort on the aloof and bouncing “This Way Out”. Drummer Michael Sarin proves that he is a percussionist that is able to go far beyond the role of simply providing a rhythmic foundation. He listens closely and becomes an integral part of the harmony and texture of the music and improvisation.

This is a recording that I am truly thankful to have had the opportunity to hear. It is completely satisfying and it holds its own with the greatest of the contemporary post-bop recordings. It has everything going for it and it is the total package, which includes very creative writing, excellent production quality. It truly deserves, and furthermore needs, to be heard as much as the band is committed to playing.
 
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