Review in New York City Jazz Record
New York City Jazz Record
November 2021 (Issue 235)
Live at the Churchill School
Rob Scheps & The TBA Band (Powder Rhythm)
by Ken Dryden
Rob Scheps is a veteran saxophonist who has worked with artists as varied as Jaki Byard, Henry Threadgill, John Abercrombie, Clark Terry, Terumasa Hino and Nancy King in addition to leading his own groups. Scheps sticks exclusively to soprano saxophone and flute on this CD, offering a diverse array of originals, beautifully interpreted by a band he recruited during a return visit to his native Oregon: pianist Matt Cooper, bassist Laurent Nickel, drummer Michael Rodenkirch and guitarist Luke McKern.
Multifaceted opener “Hatshepsut” is a hip original alternating between postbop and a playful reggae rhythm, producing an infectious groove to get audiences swaying along with the band. “Green Goddess” is an elegant jazz waltz highlighted by the work of both Cooper and Scheps. Ballad “Pellucid Redemption” is atypical, incorporating both funk and samba, with added percussion by McKern. “Amethyst”, midtempo with a hint of mystery, is dedicated to the late bassist Gary Peacock. When Scheps switches to flute, his bright lyricism is even more prominent while Nickel shines in the spotlight, paying tribute to a late master without trying to emulate his sound.
“Stick Pimps” is a sudden change in direction with the addition of McKern’s electric guitar and Nickel switching to electric bass. It evolved from the leader asking the guitarist to play like John Frusciante of The Red Hot Chili Peppers; the brittle guitar sound and funky riff grows on the listener, with brief detours into a more placid, straightahead sound. The intense “McCoy’s Luminous Mountains” is a driving work featuring furious soprano and a dazzling piano solo, paying tribute to the late maestro Tyner. A followup recording is strongly merited.