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Crossroads by Peter Sommer

While comparatively uncommon in the past couple of decades, twin-tenor sax combos were a happening thing Sonny Stitt/Gene Ammons, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis/Johnny Griffin, John Coltrane and whoever the Prestige wizards could pair him in his time away from the 1950’s Miles Davis Quintet. Whether or not tenor sax fellow Peter Sommer was inspired by these summits, his Crossroads employs that concept Sommer’s quintet includes the rich tenor (no pun intended) of Rich Perry.

Their program is an interesting one a couple of routine [not a value judgment, btw] standards ("’Round Midnight," "Alone Together"), a few originals, and some little-known gems composed by Kenny Dorham, Bud Powell, and Wayne Shorter. Keep this thought: Crossroads is not trying to emulate the exciting tenor "battles" of the aforementioned iconic hepcats, not a play-the-head-and-wail session. Sparks do fly, but this is an engagingly moody, well-thought session of cerebral (though not detached or dry) modal post-bop. Both tenor gents have full, hearty sounds Perry has a sumptuous, tasty (as semi-sweet chocolate) tone with the smarts/wit of Wayne Shorter. Sommer has some of the Monk-imbued tone not unlike that of Charlie Rouse (T. Monk’s longtime foil) and much of the steely-shiny breadth of Dexter Gordon. All the tracks are fairly lengthy (the shortest at five minutes, the longest at 10+) but there’s no excess, no meandering. The rest of the band is a bit subdued, but the entire fivesome plays superbly as a unit. Crossroads is unlikely to achieve "classic" status, but it’s an engrossing, intelligent, and heartfelt listen that doesn’t sound like 5,000 other jazz discs. Therefore: Three thumbs up!

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Peter Sommer
  • CD Title: Crossroads
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2008
  • Record Label: Capri Records
  • Tracks: Escapade, The Fruit, Dance Cadaverous, Think Of One, Shoskin, Carpe Coffee, Along Together, Round Midnight
  • Musicians: Peter Sommer (tenor saxophone), Rich Perry (tenor saxophone), Eric Gunnison (piano), Ken Walker (bass), and Todd Reid (drums)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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