The Kevin Frenette 4 is the collaborative efforts of four like-minded, energetic musicians who approach the spontaneous inventions of Connections with a blank slate. Guitarist Kevin Frenette, pianist Andy McWain, bassist Todd Keating and percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani succeed in creating a fresh, enticing collection of free-form improvisations.
Most of the pieces are set in motion by Frenette, who presents quick-witted guitar motifs with plenty of melodic angularity and rhythmic motion to feed the imaginations of his cohorts. Frenette’s bop-inspired opening lines on the title track, arpeggiated statements on "Network Theory" and chromaticism on "Correlation Coefficient" are quickly echoed by McWain who seems to anticipate the guitarist’s every move. The last three tracks on the disc, "Amalgamation," "Combinational Mathematics" and "Merger Doctrine," stand out as the session highlights. This far into the disc, the melding of musical thought takes on a natural flow with a complete abandonment of any pre-conceived notions.
Nakatani displays his brilliance throughout the session by combining inventive manipulation of percussive sound with thoughtful moments of silence. He employs a well-stocked arsenal of percussion to create tension in unpredictable ways. There are moments of utter defiance where sound clusters seem to purposefully disregard the melodic developments of guitar and piano. On "Logic Synthesis," Nakatani sets the mood with eerie cymbal harmonics and sporadic clatter, setting up a reflective backdrop for the others to exploit.
Keating maintains a low-key, yet vital presence throughout. The bassist sticks to the low register, using repetitive loop-type figures to create an illusory notion of groove underneath a wash of sound.
Connections is a dazzling display of sympathetic interactions with truly spontaneous results. Frenette and company combine for a powerful force of open-minded creative energy.