Ralph Peterson has done it again with a second volume of his continuing recordings at Firehouse 12, the New Haven, CT jazz club which has made an undeniable impact on the east coast jazz scene. With ALIVE at Firehouse 12 – Volume 2: Fo’ n Mo’, Peterson continues to illustrate his mastery with a new edition of Fo’tet players (and some very special guests, hence the Fo’ n Mo’ subtitle) who simply burn from note one.
“This is an excellent snapshot of the evolution of this band,” says Peterson. “I’m focused on trying to develop fresh ideas in music as well as collaborate with and highlight new and established players. Reconnecting with former OTB/Fo’tet bandmate and friend Steve Wilson, whose soprano approach has always been among my favorites in music since hearing him first over 20 years ago.” Peterson’s Berklee colleague, percussionist Eguie Castrillo, works marvelously with Peterson’s dense yet sensitive rhythmic comping. Felix Peikli on clarinet and bass clarinet, vibraphonistJoseph Doubleday and bassist Alex Claffy all bring youthful fire to the music. Being a launch pad for new talent, Peterson, in his own voice, embodies a tradition of apprenticeship much like his beloved mentor Art Blakey.
Like most Peterson recordings, the opening salvo is always incendiary. Featuring witty and inventive solos by Doubleday, Pekli, and Wilson, Chick Corea’s “Humpty Dumpty” sets the stage for action. Wilson and Doubleday continue to shine with the Billy Strayhorn classic “Chelsea Bridge,” with Wilson stating the classic theme straight up and down, which is complimentary to the Stevie Wonder classic “Overjoyed.”
“Tears I Cannot Hide” is a Peterson composition originally recorded on his 2002 quintet releaseSubliminal Seduction. On this new version, the tune is now an Afro-Cuban chant that is both magisterial and haunting with Castrillo’s intro creating the mood and groove.”Lady in Black” will remind listeners of what a great groove should sound like in modern jazz with the theme evoking a Sunday afternoon at the park with the one you love.
On Bud Powell’s “Celia,” Castrillo and Doubleday set up the groove with Peterson, Claffy, while Pekli unleashes the first solo that shows his dexterity and power. Wilson’s solo shows his level of mastery and his ingenuity inside the rhythm section’s Afro-Cuban blast furnace. The set ends with a burning version of Thelonious Monk’s “Skippy” where Wilson and Peikli engage in a tour de force reminiscent of The Eternal Triangle and the entire group takes the tune to great new heights.
ALIVE at Firehouse 12 – Vol. 2: Fo’ n Mo’ is Peterson’s 18th record as leader and the level of performance rivals any record the drummer/composer/educator has appeared on in the last 25 years. It is a follow up to ALIVE at Firehouse 12 – Vol. 1: The Unity Project recorded a little over a year ago. In that version of the band, Peterson featured veteran Craig Handy on tenor and soprano saxophone along with Josh Evans on trumpet. Staying true to the Messenger spirit, Peterson also unleashed yet another dynamic young talent in the person of Jake Sherman on Hammond organ.The live record format accurately captures the tremendous energy of his bands, which has become a signature brand of the drummer/composer/arranger/bandleader.
Peterson also remains in high demand as an educator, leading workshops and clinics with the support of his endorsers Mapex Drums, Meinl Cymbals, Evans Drumheads and Vic Firth Stick and Brushes. Peterson is now at the intersection where his influence on modern jazz is undeniable and constant. He is at the apex of his power as a drummer, bandleader, teacher and mentor. With the release of this new recording, Peterson is delivering the goods every time he gets on a bandstand with like-minded musicians. Yes, it is easy to say that Ralph Peterson is ALIVE and pushing the collective envelope every chance he gets.