Jure Pukl – Doubtless – Whirlwind 

by | Oct 16, 2018 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Jure Pukl – Doubtless [TrackList follows] – Whirlwind WR4724, 43:25 [5/25/18] ****:

(Jure Pukl – tenor saxophone, producer, co-mixer, co-mastering; Melissa Aldana – tenor saxophone; Joe Sanders – upright bass; Gregory Hutchinson – drums)

Family-oriented jazz projects are common. Ornette Coleman and his drumming son Denardo worked together; the Marsalis’ have performed in various configurations; and so on. Here’s a slightly different family project: Slovenian-born tenor saxophonist Jure Pukl (who now calls NYC home) and his wife and fellow tenor saxophonist Mellissa Aldana (a leader in her own right). Bassist Joe Sanders (his background includes Charles Lloyd, Gerald Clayton and others) and drummer Gregory Hutchinson (his long list of credits includes Betty Carter, Roy Hargrove, Joe Henderson and many more) complete the quartet on Pukl’s new album, the 43-minute Doubtless, which was issued as a high quality, six-panel digipak CD, and as digital download files. This review refers to the CD.

Pukl travelled back home in early 2017 and taped these nine tracks at RSL Studios in Novo Mesto, Slovenia. Spontaneity was important: the entire session was captured in about three hours; the musicians kept an improvised approach to each piece. Part of the organic response to the music was inspired by how the quartet had already taken these compositions into fresh paths in live settings; another reason for the record’s closeness and openness is how well Aldana and Pukl interact. Pukl explains, “It feels natural, we have a similar tenor vocabulary, and that energy unites us.”

There’s a sense of impromptu autonomy throughout these tunes, which shift between striking melodic highlights and interesting harmony interpolations. The music ranges in moods but maintains a post-bop slant with traces of Latin influences, modern jazz and more. The foursome commences with the mature, enthusiastic title track, which showcases how Aldana and Pukl effortlessly communicate, crafting harmony and counterpoint. The title track and album name were stimulated by a period of family drama, when Pukl’s mother fell seriously ill but recovered. He put trust in the universe her health would get better. The feeling of positive thinking on the title track infuses the other cuts. The twin-tenor interplay travels a more lyrical landscape on the pleasing “Doves,” which uses a spinning, waltz-like foundation and has a wonderful bass solo. While the saxes climb, Sanders and Hutchinson manufacture a feisty rhythmic flow. Another essential is the ascending “Elsewhere,” which has an edgy groove and melds forward-thinking jazz, Hutchinson’s flavorful rhythm which hints at hip-hop, and the two tenor saxes’ imaginative dialogue.

Not all the material is a quartet arrangement. The affectionate trio outing “Compassion”—Pukl’s tonal elegy for world peace—is accentuated by Pukl’s gentle and sensitive tenor, Hutchinson’s graceful cymbals and percussive components, and Sanders’ reverberating upright bass. The brief 2:33 “Where Are You Coming From?” is a Latin-nuanced, bass-tenor duet which is a slowly-moving adaptation of a classically-inspired number from Pukl’s 2017 release, Hybrid. The original tune was a portion of a two-part, nine-minute, mini-suite. Here, Pukl de-emphasizes the Latin jazz touches, and nicely pares down the melodic constituents into a shortened piece for a two-person feature. Not everything was penned by Pukl. There’s a fascinating interpretation of Ornette Coleman’s little-known “InterSong,” from the 1992 Naked Lunch soundtrack, which was a collaboration between composer Howard Shore and Coleman. “InterSong” is an uneasy and avant-garde track where the tenor horns use irregular harmonics. Covering Coleman seems to be something Pukl enjoys: he redid Coleman’s “Lonely Woman” on Hybrid. There is also an innovative inclination to Sanders’ “Eliote,” which he wrote for his infant son. “Eliote” has advanced development ripened by bouncy rhythms, lengthy sax work and Sander’s bounding bass notes. Doubtless concludes with the eager “Bad Year – Good Year,” another showpiece for the twinned tenor saxophones and the tight-but-loose rhythm section. Two tenor saxes, bass and drums are not a typical quartet formation: on Jure Pukl’s Doubtless that unique structure yields some memorable, notable music well worth hearing.

The Mind and the Soul
Where Are You Coming From?
Bad Year – Good Year

—Doug Simpson

Link for more info and track samples here:

Portrait Juri Puke

Juri Puke, in NY
Photo by Aljosa Videtic

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