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Give the drummer some

Posted by Steve Greenlee  September 7, 2010 12:14 PM

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DSC_0196-6_edited-1.JPGOne of the more interesting bandleaders in Boston flies under the radar -- that is to say, he doesn't get the attention he deserves. Were here to abscond for New York, where the jazz lights glow brighter, drummer Brooke Sofferman surely would make a national name for himself. But let's selfishly hope it doesn't come to that. Instead, what jazz-loving citizens of Greater Boston ought to do is catch one of his upcoming shows.

Sofferman, whose group is called the Sofferman Perspective, has a big weekend coming up soon, in celebration of his superb new double-CD, "Symposium." The Perspective -- at this point a quintet that includes saxophonist Rick DiMuzio, trumpeter Phil Grenadier, guitarist Phil Sargent, and bassist Will Slater -- will play the Acton Jazz Cafe on Friday, Sept. 17; the Lilypad in Cambridge on Saturday, Sept. 18, and the Press Room in Portsmouth, N.H., on Sunday, Sept. 19.

A Sofferman Perspective concert at Scullers Jazz Club a couple of years ago prompted me to write: "Here's a promise: You will not hear a jazz group play with more talent, more focus, more intensity than the quintet led by drummer Brooke Sofferman." I recall these words clearly, because they're printed on the jacket of Sofferman's new album, which has become one of my favorite records of 2010. "Symposium" captures Sofferman in concert, stretching his limber band out at length (the shortest song runs 7 1/2 minutes) on a batch of upbeat, zigzagging compositions.

Most of the tunes are originals -- Sofferman happens to be a talented jazz composer -- but the most startling number on "Symposium" is the one that closes both CDs: Sofferman's jazz arrangement of "Imperial March," which everyone knows as Darth Vader's theme in "Star Wars." How Sofferman ever heard a hip jazz theme in that dirgelike march is anyone's guess, but he knew what he was doing. The tune works. It alone is worth the price of admission.

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