Brad Webb, Making Faces (Independent)

Brad Webb, Making Faces, album cover, OffBeat Magazine, September 2014

There is a certain timelessness to Brad Webb’s Making Faces.

The music, although recorded in 2013, could be from any time in the last 40 years. It’s modern, but still swinging and recognizable, jazz.

For a drummer-led record, Webb stays in the background, meshing well with his band. And the band puts on fine performances. The forward groove of the opener “Patience” allows saxophonists Brad Walker and Reagan Mitchell to play with and against each other in a beautiful and soaring exchange.

The next tune, “Doppelganger,” also has the saxophonists playing against each other over mysterious-sounding chords and the nimble surprise of Trey Boudreaux’s bass-note choices.

Webb’s drum play here is steady and in the pocket. Occasionally he will ornament his playing with fills or put himself in the foreground as he does in the driving opening to “Shoshin,” but mostly he sets a firm foundation.

The compositions (six of the seven tracks are Webb originals) show a knowledge of the best jazz composers in the past decades (the dynamics, melodies and harmonies of Wayne Shorter and Terence Blanchard seem to be antecedents) and succeed in mixing their ideas with some of Webb’s and push forward while staying in the genre.

His tunes have an energy and space for his band to make them their own, and that makes for a fine record that any modern-jazz fan will appreciate.