Mike Prigodich – A Stitch in Time – Mexican Mocha MPCD-01, 73:15 ***1/2:
(Mike Prigodich – piano, keyboards; Damian Erskine – electric bass; Reinhardt Melz – drums; John Nastos – saxophone; Brandon Woody – electric and acoustic guitar; Rafael Trujillo – percussion; Paul Mazzio – trumpet, Flugelhorn; Patrick Lamb – saxophone (track 11); Tim Jensen – flute (track 5); Toshi Onizuka – palmas (track 2))
Musicians have been inspired to play and record jazz music for many reasons. Portland, Oregon keyboardist Mike Prigodich’s debut album, A Stitch in Time, was created due to cancer. When Prigodich became a cancer patient in 2008 he realized it was now or never and went from being a computer software desk jockey who only performed in the security of his home, to real-life jazz musician. Prigodich figured if fellow cancer survivor Lance Armstrong could return to competitive cycling, he could become a jazz artist. The Kickstarter web site made his recording session possible.
The result is 11 tracks and 73 minutes of fusion-enriched jazz which also coincidently provides a platform for some of Portland’s finest jazz artists, including bassist Damian Erskine (Peter Erskine’s nephew), versatile drummer Reinhardt Melz (who has worked with a diverse roster from pop singer Gino Vannelli to blues legend Buddy Guy), multi-sax player John Nastos (a valuable Portlander who has been involved with numerous local groups), electric guitarist Brandon Woody (who can be found on Portland stages in the Woody, Wiseman & Sprague trio), trumpeter/Flugelhorn player Paul Mazzio (credits include Tony Bennett, The Moody Blues and Delbert McClinton), and percussionist Rafael Trujillo. There are also Portland-area guests who add to specific tracks.
Prigodich did not waste any time. He composed tunes which share varied twists and turns, an array of tricky time signatures and which are influenced by miscellaneous sources. There are seemingly autobiographical numbers. “A Measure of Luck” (perhaps a nod to Prigodich’s medical close-call) points to one of his jazz heroes, Dave Grusin, and was written in the challenging time-signature of 13/8. Nastos showcases his sax skills with a laudatory solo where he concisely takes the spotlight and still handles the odd time signature. Trujillo and Melz also form a potent rhythm team which buoys an easy-going Latin groove supported by Erskine’s soulful bass. The title track, although in a complex 9/4 time, seems nearly conventional in comparison. The friendly piece has a smooth jazz taint saved by Nastos’ sax improvisation and the band’s sporadic energy.
Chick Corea is another Prigodich favorite and Corea’s presence is perceptible on the intricate “Coreatown,” (laid out in12/8 time) which confirms Corea’s Elektric Band has been scrutinized closely by Prigodich. The arrangement does not cite any specific Corea material but delivers something akin to Corea in a broader sense, although Erskine certainly brings to mind the great bassist John Patitucci while Melz suggests he’s studied the style of drummer Dave Weckl. In a completely different direction comes “Nigel’s Theme (This One Goes to Eleven),” motivated by Rob Reiner’s heavy metal mockumentary, This Is Spinal Tap. Fear not, this cut is no “Jazz Odyssey,” nor some hard-rock/jazz hybrid. When Woody steps up briefly he echoes some of Allan Holdsworth’s work, although generally “Nigel’s Theme” maintains an upbeat, Steps Ahead-esque appeal.
Now that Prigodich has generated regional attention the next step is to extend his national interest and to see if can attract more contemporary jazz fans with his likable fusion material. If nothing else, A Stitch in Time is further evidence Portland has a thriving and outstanding jazz community. Anyone who wants to investigate Prigodich’s music in depth should visit his website, http://www.mikeprigodich.com/Home where he has posted chord charts for all of the tracks on A Stitch in Time.
1. Chaos Theory
2. Spanish Swordfight (for Adric)
3. A Measure of Luck
4. At Sixes and Sevens
5. Anneka’s Dance (Fantasy and Allusion)
6. The Wizard of Odd (for Reinhardt Wolfgang Melz)
7. A Stitch in Time
9. Wishful Thinking
10. Nigel’s Theme (This One Goes to Eleven)
— Doug Simpson