On Second Thought is a strong debut from an emerging voice in the fertile jazz region of San Francisco. Pianist Adam Shulman composes strong melodies with lingering qualities, highlighted by supportive rhythmic and harmonic foundations. Never meandering, there is a consistently logical flow to each piece. Stand-out tracks include the in-the-pocket groove of "For an Unknown Lady," the inconspicuous meter-shifting of "New Beginning" and the contemporary leanings of "Going Home." As a soloist, Shulman swings hard, exudes confidence and takes chances, while never veering too far off course.
Much more than a showcase for Shulman, the session is a highly collaborative effort, relying heavily on the contributions of each musician. Tenor saxophonist Dayna Stephens’ breathy, focused tone glides through each piece with warmth and distinction. His solo on "Bounce," is a wonderful example of carefully developed ideas wrought with sincere emotion. John Wiitala’s bottom-heavy bass and Jon Arkin’s crisp drumming bounce along from track-to-track, groove-to-groove with buoyancy and aplomb. The rhythm duo provides an invigorating momentum to the overriding pensive nature of Shulman’s music.
On Second Thought is a fresh-sounding, soulful endeavor. Shulman’s introspective approach to playing and composing has the potential to reach a wide-ranging audience while remaining mindful of artistic integrity.