By: Edward Blanco
Tenor saxophonist Peter Brainin, pianist Noah Haidu, bassist Marcus McLaurine and drummer Steve Johns are all veteran musicians and stars in their own right. Together, they form one of the most dynamic jazz quartets around. Calling themselves Native Soul, the group follows their most impressive Soul Step (ASM, 2011) release with the new One Mind offering a blend of originals and selective standards from the likes of Lennon & McCartney, Luther Vandross, Jule Styne and Stevie Wonder.
From the opening Noah Haidu composition “The Gathering,” one can immediately discern that this is going to be a dynamite album. Brainin’s soprano foray and the pianist’s sharp chords mark the music leading to the contrasting Vandross tune “So Amazing” where the group is more subdued but no less engaging. Bassist McLaurine’s swinging “Alone” is one of the true burners of the set highlighting Brainin’s steamy tenor along with brisk work from Johns and as well as the bassist himself. The most ambitious chart of the session has to be Brainin’s lengthy “Pedal Down” characterized by a call-and-response segment between tenor, piano and bass.
The group performs an interesting R&B rendition of the Lennon & McCartney piece “Baby You’re A Rich Man,” grooves a little on the bassist’s second contribution “Dharma” and swings mightily on the classic standard from songwriter Jule Styne “It’s You or No One.” The music winds down on the simple harmonic “If You Don’t Want Me (As Much as I Want You) and closes on a wonderful version from the Stevie Wonder songbook with a delicious sweet take on “Overjoyed.” Native Soul are four team players, four amazing artists that play well together gelling in sync, all of One Mind here laying down a performance that deserves attention, and like their previous outing, impressive to the core.