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Published: 2001/12/19
by Ray Hogan

Go-Round – Jeff Coffin Mu’tet

Compass Records

It must be difficult for Jeff Coffin. In almost any other band, his prowess on

a variety of reed instruments would propel him into a leadership role. But in

Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, he's surrounded by three other supremely

gifted musicians and rarely gets the praise he should be garnering.

With the Mu'tet, Coffin gets to run the show. The group consists of Coffin on

saxophones (tenor, alto and soprano), clarinet and flutes, Tom Giampietro on

drums and percussion, Chris Walters on piano and accordion and Derek Jones on

bass, but are joined by a special guest on nearly every track.

The Mu'Tet is a contemporary jazz ensemble that charters a vast terrain of

music. There's the middle-eastern influence of the opening Intro/Tuesday's

Waterloo where the six string viola of Tracy Silverman provides a great foil

to Coffin's soprano and tenor work. Tall and Lanky is throttled by a New

Orleans second-line parade beat and is the funkiest track on the disc.

Playin’ the Worm is traditional modern jazz in the John Coltrane-to-Branford Marsalis continuum. The group’s diversity is its biggest asset.

Coffin is regal when playing ballads. His blowing is monumental on the simple

melody of Zuleikka. He’s equally triumphant on As in the Beginning,

possibly the strongest tune on the disc, and Only Love, a dedication to his

wife.

The influence of Ornette Coleman and Dewey Redman is evident on Coffin's

compositions, which are solid. However, the disc would benefit from the

familiarity factor of a standard or two.

"Go-Round" is solid proof that there's so much more to modern jazz than the

lite stuff aimed at pop-radio audiences. It's also a strong testament to

Coffin's abilities, which lie somewhat hidden in the Flecktones.

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