AMN Reviews: Peter Kerlin Octet – Salamander (2013; Innova)

879_coverSometimes a recording sits on your shelf or your phone for a while. You listen to it sporadically, and it grows on you until you realize that it is quite an excellent offering. Never mind that it took you several months or years to figure that out. Brooklyn bassist Peter Kerlin’s Salamander falls squarely into this camp.

Kerlin leads his Octet (which features Amy Cimini, Jessica Pavone, and Mike Pride among others) on a romp through chamber jazz and minimalist classicism with a solid groove. Most tracks feature interlocking patterns of Kerlin’s signature bass lines with strings and vibes. This approach is repetitive, but richly layered and anything but dull. The heavy use of organ provides a retro-seventies feel, but some of the more improvisational pieces are just noisy enough to break out of that decade’s cliched sound.

This is unique recording, and needless to say, a grower. In retrospect, Salamander probably should have been on my “best of 2013” list, and definitely has flown under the radar of many reviewers. Kerlin’s music has a wonderful, understated voice. Highly recommended.

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