On "Inversations," drummer Ari Hoenig's debut as a leader for Dreyfus Jazz, he not only displays the excellence he has come to represent as a sideman with such masters as Kenny Werner, Joe Lovano, Pat Martino and many others; but Hoenig also sets a bold new standard for himself as a bandleader that is sure to please the most discerning jazz aficionado. Hoenig's drumming prowess pervades this recording. His youthful vitality and unbounded energy are only two of the main ingredients of his profound musical substance that shine brilliantly on "Inversations."
"Inversations" is comprised of nine tracks (eight of which are Hoenig originals) that feature Hoenig's trio sharing their musical skills in a wide-ranging repertoire of hard bop and free avant-garde jazz. Their acclaimed improvisations speak directly to the listener in a standard of jazz language that includes hip jazz riffs, quiet sophistication and syncopated dynamics.
Inversations is a great title, and drummer Ari Hoenig lives up to it by turning tunes on their ear, building interesting melodic structures without losing his connection to listeners. Working as he frequently does with the lyrically self-possessed French pianist Jean Michel Pilc and German bassist Johannes Weidenmueller, the Philly native immediately grabs our attention with a jabbing, hard-edged reconfiguration of Charlie Parker's 'Anthropology." On an album dominated by originals, he's equally good at accentuating the ebb as well as the flow on ballads. With nice contributions from saxophonists Jacques Schwarz-Bart and Will Vinson, the music is always in motion. Youre never unaware of Hoenig's presence--he's an aggressive, more-is-more type of drummer--but he has the personality to make that approach work and the gumption to hold things together. --Lloyd Sachs