This fleet suite of 78 minutes fans out like a brilliant kaleidoscope of musical events, dovetailing thematic ideas and playful brief solos.
After an elastic spooky turn on the Jerome Kern classic “Yesterday,” a panoply of 13 originals leads down merry paths of ear-tweaking modes and startling arpeggiated lines at rattlingly good but often-shifting tempos. Rhythm Edge impresses with top-notch musicianship but always keeps you guessing.
Who is this charmed and charming Person and what is his Meta-Four? Reedman Eric Person has logged veteran time in distinguished bands (Chico Hamilton, Dave Holland, World Saxophone Quartet). His open-minded largesse is manifest in an enigmatic yet daring compositional approach that occasionally features smart and subtle twin keyboarding and multi-reed overdubs. His seductively serpentine linear conception as soloist creeps into his writing as smoothly as a snake among reeds.
Meta-Four is Person’s present working quartet, a continually collaborative ensemble, as evidenced by the turn-on-a-dime dynamics and pacing of “Reach.” Cohort Jerod Kashkin plays agile piano and keyboard (sometimes simultaneously) and dependably whips out fine solos. The rhythm team of bassist Adam Armstrong and drummer Peter O’Brien burbles along, gamely shifting patterns and directions according to the tunes’ whims and soloists’ darting, while holding to the tight pocket and nailing some tasty bits, with Armstrong on a sidewise blues, O’Brien under brass tutti on the title track.
Cameos ebb and flow. Guitarist Cary DeNigris (a 20-year collaborator) solos on the fiery “Supersonic” but comps neatly elsewhere. Trombonist Robin Eubanks percolates on the 6/8 “Pendulum Swing” and conga-spiced storm-gathering “Multitudes.” Trumpeter Ingrid Jensen has her neat say on the closing romp “Tyner Town” (dedicated to another ex-boss of Person’s, McCoy Tyner) but inserts a disembodied Miles-ian coda on “Reach.” In this aural tapestry are interwoven synth colors and brass fanfares while stray threads of voice and tabla serve as bright exclamation points. Amid the fray, a welcome ballad set (“Sunset” and “Beauty”) finds the leader in a calm oasis on his liquid yet potent soprano.