JOHN FEDCHOCK — Reminiscence (review)

JOHN FEDCHOCK — Reminiscence album cover Live album · 2018 · Hard Bop Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
If you enjoyed John Fedchock’s 2015 release, “Fluidity”, then there is a good chance you will like his new one, “Reminiscence”, as well as both CDs contain material recorded during the same three night run at the nightclub Havana Nights in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Apparently Fedchock was recently going through the tapes of those shows and realized he easily had enough strong material on hand to get one more CD release out of those performances. The closing track on “Reminiscence” is from an older show at the same club, but you would never notice any difference if someone didn’t tell you. Much like “Fluidity”, “Reminiscence” contains a mix of originals and standards all arranged so that everything blends together into a congruent set.

John Fedchock is mostly known for his big band work in NYC where he has been holding concerts and releasing albums for some 20 years now. Despite his success with the large ensembles, John also likes to work with combos in small clubs as it allows the musicians to stretch out and take chances that can’t happen in more heavily arranged ensembles. In Fedchock’s own words, “playing in this (small club) setting allows the players more of a chance to interact and create an intimate conversation through improvisation”. The performers that John has chosen on here are all well known to him and have performed with him many times in the past and include John Toomey on piano, Jimmy Masters on bass and Dave Ratajczak on drums.

“Reminiscence” opens with a couple of up-tempo bluesy originals that establish the players strengths. Fedchock is not a particularly flashy player, but he is a master of endless melodic variations that always swing. Toomey makes for a good contrast to Fedchock, on the up tempo numbers he is apt to get a little crazy with some full fisted attacks that have some similarities to Jaki Byard. On the more laid back tracks he gets more mysterious, sometimes recalling Herbie Hancock’s “Speak Like a Child” album. Solo space for Jimmy and Dave is limited, but maybe that’s not a bad thing, a good rhythm section should feel no shame in providing a swinging drive for the lead instruments. There is a good variety to the song choices with four groove numbers, one Bossa Nova and two semi-ballads. Some call this type of jazz “straight ahead”, which makes for a good description because throughout, John Fedchock avoids any bad detours.
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