Matthew Finck, guitar, and Jonathan Ball, tenor saxophone, with their new album “It’s Not That Far,” continue the vast and varied range of collaborations between their instruments, expanding their conversations, and on three tracks, enriching their sound with the trumpet and flugelhorn of Randy Brecker. Their collective experience reaches back deep to the blues, gospel, and R&B, is grounded in bebop, and draws from sources as disparate as funk, rock, Bossa Nova and fusion. Matt Finck (b.1972), has collaborated in the past with Roswell Rudd, John Medeski, and Steve Wilson among many. Jonathan Ball (b.1968) has teamed up with Ira Coleman, Randy Gillespie, Giovanni Hildago, Charles Flores, and Dafnis Prieto, to name just a few. Randy Brecker (b.1945), with two dozen albums under his belt as a leader, and countless albums as a sideman, displays versatility and flawless storytelling that speaks for itself.
The rhythm section, anchored by Jay Anderson (b.1955), bass, and Adam Nussbaum (b.1955), drums, delivers a percussive and unerringly consistent pulse that is highly textured and finely layered. Both Jay and Adam have played, and continue to play with, a virtual “Who’s Who” in jazz, performing locally and around the world. Jay notably so with Red Rodney, Joe Sample, and the Maria Schneider Orchestra; Adam with Stan Getz, Dave Liebman, Michael Brecker, and John Scofield.
The nine tunes on the album “It’s Not That Far” are the result of an inspired collaboration between all musicians involved. In Jay and Adam, the co-leaders engage a rhythm section that contributes vast musical experience, complexity, and depth. “One of the most enjoyable things about this recording is the rhythm section of Jay and Adam. The music simply would not be what it is absent their contributions. The two day recording session was a pure joy from our perspective; relaxed, collaborative, and exciting all at the same time. They are a perfect foil for any creative musical endeavor. Their advice and sensibilities are priceless and what you get is an interplay 30 years in the making.” The nine tracks offered here prove the case in point convincingly.
While this album marks a major milestone in the careers both of Matthew Finck and Jonathan Ball, as performers and as composers, it also allows a look forward. Future collaborations are already being sketched out; maybe change the sound texture a bit, perhaps add a Hammond B3 to the mix. Up next is developing original compositions, exercising and fine-tuning them on the bandstand until they’re ripe and ready for the next recording. Live audiences will be in good hands, and so is the legacy of the collaboration between jazz guitar and tenor saxophone. Be on the lookout for the next Finck-Ball partnership production – it’s not that far.