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Not By Chance

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Album Review

Never underestimate the power of a sideman. Having talented, capable sidemen on board can mean the difference between a lackluster album and a creatively successful album — and as a sideman, bassist Joe Martin has done his part to make a lot of studio recordings and live gigs creatively successful. So it's only right that on his own album, Not by Chance, Martin is well served by a cohesive team that includes reedman Chris Potter, acoustic pianist Brad Mehldau, and drummer Marcus Gilmore. Potter and Gilmore, of course, have long résumés as both leaders and sidemen — and with Martin in the driver's seat, they have no problem helping to bring someone else's material to life. Except for Jaco Pastorius' "The Balloon Song," everything on this early-2009 post-bop recording is a Martin original; clearly, playing an abundance of standards wasn't what he had in mind. Had the quartet opted to emphasize well-known post-bop standards — let's say Wayne Shorter's "Footprints," Miles Davis' "Milestones," Joe Henderson's "Recorda Me," and John Coltrane's "Equinox" followed by Herbie Hancock's "Dolphin Dance" and Kenny Dorham's "Blue Bossa" — that would have been easier for Potter, Mehldau, and Gilmore than having to learn Martin's compositions. Playing eight Martin originals no doubt forced them to get into his head as a composer. But Potter, Mehldau, and Gilmore obviously rose to the occasion — and while the self-produced Not by Chance isn't an exceptional post-bop outing, it is certainly a solid and satisfying one. Call it karma, if you want; with Martin having served many of his employers well, he deserved to have gifted sidemen on board when he recorded a project of his own. Not by Chance illustrates the value of teamwork; again, never underestimate the power of a sideman.

Not By Chance, Joe Martin
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