Review: Cozzetti & Gemmill, Timeless
Cozzetti & Gemmill, Timeless
When tenor and soprano saxophonist Tim Gemmill and acoustic pianist/electric keyboardist Bob Cozzetti were living on the East Coast during much of the 1970s, the instrumentalists co-led a jazz quartet called Rorschach (which also included Wes Jensen on drums and the late Midge Pike on acoustic and electric bass). Cozzetti & Gemmill lived in Hackensack, New Jersey but frequently performed in nearby New York City, where Rorschach had both acoustic and electric gigs. But Cozzetti and Gemmill moved back to Seattle, which marked the end of the Cozzetti/Gemmill/
Pike/Jensen lineup. However, Cozzetti & Gemmill performed in Seattle clubs for awhile in the early 1980s with new lineups they initially billed as Rorschach. And they ended up changing the name of their group to the Cozzetti & Gemmill Quartet and later, simply Cozzetti & Gemmill. They recorded two vinyl LPs during that period (1981’s Concerto for Padre and 1983’s Soft Flower in Spring), and Timeless is an hour-long CD containing material from those two albums.
The lineup on Timeless consists of Gemmill on tenor and soprano saxophone, synthesizers, electric keyboards and acoustic piano, Cozzetti on electric keyboards, acoustic piano and trumpet, Steve Bartlett on electric bass and Fred Taylor or Bob Merrihew on drums.
The material on Timeless ranges from fusion to post-bop. There is plenty of rock and funk muscle on “Captain Pike,” “Blue Jay,” “For the Rock Artist” and “Cyclops,” whereas Cozzetti & Gemmill favor more of a post-bop approach on “Contemplating Raindrops” (which has a strong John Coltrane influence), “Colony Four” (another Coltrane-minded offering), the Asian-flavored “China” and the Wayne Shorter-ish title song of Soft Flower in Spring. Meanwhile, Concerto for Padre’s title track combines some McCoy Tyner-ish moves with a healthy appreciation of European classical music.
“Captain Pike’s” melody is not unlike something tenor/soprano saxophonist Wayne Shorter and acoustic pianist/electric keyboardist Joe Zawinul would have done when they were co-leading Weather Report, one of the great fusion bands of the 1970s. “Cyclops,” however, is much closer to something trumpeter Miles Davis would have done during that era. Davis, of course, was quite influential in different styles of jazz, from bebop and cool jazz to modal post-bop to fusion. And on “Cyclops,” the Davis that influences Cozzetti & Gemmill is the electric fusion Davis of the 1970s. Cozzetti’s trumpet playing on “Cyclops” is mindful of Davis, and the melody is equally mindful of him.
“Tree Leaves” is a swinging yet melodic post-bop track that is very much in the vein of Coltrane and tenor/soprano saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, who was part of Coltrane’s group during the last few years of Trane’s life and has also, enjoyed considerable success as the leader of his own groups. Think of the more ethereal side of Coltrane and Sanders (Trane on “My Favorite Things” in 1960, Sanders on “Thembi” in the early 1970s), and one can get an idea of where Cozzetti & Gemmill are coming from on “Tree Leaves.”
At times, the synthesizers on Timeless sound dated. Listening to Gemmill’s synths on “Blue Jay,” for example, there is no doubt that the tune was recorded in the early 1980s. But sounding dated isn’t necessarily a negative thing if one holds a particular era in high regard. A lot of great music came out of the 1980s, and the fact that Gemmill’s synthesizer playing on “Blue Jay” says “early 1980s” in no uncertain terms is nothing to be ashamed of.
No less than 47 years have passed since Bob Cozzetti & Tim Gemmill first met in Seattle. They met in 1967, going on to enjoy a long and productive working relationship on both the East Coast and the West Coast. And this engaging reissue demonstrates that when the two of them left the East Coast and moved back to Seattle, their creativity didn’t suffer a bit.
Review by Alex Henderson
3.5 stars (out of 5)