Engine Start

Engine Start
Brainchild of multi-instrumentalist/composer Peter Lutek, this quintet make music skilfully balanced between freedom and precise structures. A focal point is Lutek's evocative reedsmanship, which employs alto and baritone saxes, clarinet, birdcalls and a "homemade copper-pipe-and-trumpet-bell thing." Nine of the ten pieces are from the leader's pen, and each is fresh and cliché-free. The poignant "Radiant" features a heartfelt alto solo that "radiates" longing ― a solo like this players wait years for. Opener "Seat" is intense, with stern comping from Greg de Denus and back-and-forth interplay between Lutek on clarinet and Tom Richards on trombone, plus a curious ending. "Reach" is a short, poised, dance-like song featuring elegant brushwork by Ethan Ardelli. Closely voiced lines, spiced with tasty dissonance, on "Cell" provide a compelling lead-in to the continually strong clarinet and pensive trombone. What resonates most is how individualized Engine's music is; it doesn't reminisce or allude to the Blue Note days of yore; Start is wholly its own thing. (Pet Mantis)