Pedicin's sax had them from the start
By David R. Adler
For The Inquirer

On April 19, when Terence Blanchard played the movie music of Spike Lee at the Kimmel Center, Michael Pedicin conducted the orchestra. The evening's best-kept secret was that Pedicin, 60, is a fine tenor saxophonist with seven albums to his credit.
 
At Chris' Jazz Cafe on Saturday, Pedicin took his turn in the spotlight, fronting a quintet and playing material from a new album, his eighth, Everything Starts Now.

All the music was original, but interestingly, it was not Pedicin's. Guitarist Johnny Valentino wrote almost the entire album, and he played his modern compositions with a clean, pointed articulation, strongly influenced by Pat Martino, but with an ethereal drift more reminiscent of John Abercrombie.

Pedicin, a practicing psychologist, is a muscular player in the post-Coltrane vein, with something of Joe Henderson's warm timbre and an ability to turn packed phrases into clear thoughts. He began with the marvelously haunting, out-of-tempo "Everything Starts Now," a risky step in a noisy club but just the thing to draw in sensitive listeners.

There were two poles to the quintet's language: stately themes and evocative harmony on the opener, "Another Day" and "Pelican"; and a freer, more fragmented, rhythmic approach on "L.A. to Philly," "Concatenation," and "Later." Pianist Mick Rossi was more than capable of bridging these worlds, excelling most of all on a sparse, darkly lit ballad solo.

In the rhythm section were two players not heard on the album: bassist Kermit Driscoll, a solid presence; and drummer Gerry Hemingway, an exceptional avant-garde artist in his own right, who lacked Michael Sarin's finesse on the walking tempos. The very essence of "L.A. to Philly" is a rolling, slippery swing feel that harks back to the great Elvin Jones, but that was not in Hemingway's comfort zone.

With Valentino's unaccompanied passage during "Later," and the country-funk vamp that ended "Concatenation," the band discarded the rule book altogether. But the calmer, picturesque numbers featured Pedicin and his cohorts in the best light.
 
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