Matt Belzer,
(Matobelu, 2005)

One of the songs on Matt Belzer's CD Connections is called "Misfit the Second." The title comes from Belzer's frustration at not fitting into the usual categories of jazz. But why should he?

This excellent disc is hard to define. There is always discernable melody. Scott Tiemann on drums, cymbals and electric drum pad and Drew Waters on bass maintain a consistent rhythm. On the other hand, Belzer uses odd time signatures and unusual techniques. And keyboardist Jon Ozment occasionally uses strange synth effects along with his piano playing.

The first cut, "Deep Focus," overtracks multi-instrumentalist Belzer with up to nine layers on soprano saxophone, alto flute and clarinet. "The Ember Waltz" features Belzer with both frenetic and mellow sax playing, anchored by Tiemann, Waters and Ozment on piano. "Misfit the Second" is more "out," with unstructured sax by Belzer and unusual beats by Tiemann.

"No Blues on Mars (It's All Red)" is a mellow tune featuring Belzer on alto flute, backed by a clarinet quartet (also Belzer). "The Station" is another beautiful tune, with leads by Belzer on clarinet and Waters on six string bass. "Truism" is subdued, without Tiemann on the track, while "Tinjitu" is a slow but funky groove featuring Belzer's sax and Ozment's electric piano.

In a scene where smooth jazz seems to be taking over everything else, it is a welcome change to find a CD release with variety and imagination anchored by fine musicianship.

by Dave Howell
8 July 2006

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