Jae Sinnett’s Zero To 60 Quartet, Commitment Review
Rhythmic Commitment: The Musical Journey of Jae Sinnett
by Nolan DeBuke
Jae Sinnett is a drummer, composer, educator, and broadcaster whose musical journey, spanning more than four decades, has been marked by an unswerving dedication to the jazz craft, a relentless pursuit of rhythmic, harmonic, and melodic exploration, and a commitment to sharing the profound beauty of jazz with the world. Sinnett’s unique contribution to the jazz genre is epitomized in his rich discography, boasting 19 albums as a bandleader and several as a sideman. Sinnett’s outstanding contribution to the jazz genre is embodied in his rich discography, boasting 19 albums as a bandleader and several as a sideman. With a broadcasting career spanning 37 years, Sinnett has also made significant contributions to the promotion of jazz, hosting the popular show Sinnett in Session and The R&B Chronicles on NPR affiliate WHRV-FM 89.5.
Sinnett’s performance pedigree is impressive, having shared the stage with jazz luminaries such as Branford and Ellis Marsalis, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, and many others. His latest offering, Commitment, features 10 tracks, three forged by Sinnett’s hand and two created by pianist Allen Farnham. These original works are accompanied by five intricate and sophisticated arrangements of jazz standards that highlight the virtuosity and adaptability of the musicians involved. In this outstanding ensemble, we have the rhythmic mastery of Jae Sinnett on drums, the resonant sounds of Randy Brecker on trumpet and flugelhorn, the melodic intricacies woven by Allen Farnham on piano, the soaring strains of Steve Wilson on both alto and soprano saxophones, and the pulsating undercurrent provided by Terry Burrell on both acoustic and electric bass.
Kicking off Commitment is the invigorating piece “Takin’ It There,” a dynamic embodiment of the hard bop genre. The track commences with a robust two-horn melody, underpinned by a rich harmonic progression, setting the tone for what follows. Sinnett’s drumming pulsates with energy and acts as the vibrant heartbeat of the ensemble as he drives the performance with undeniable vigor. Wilson’s solo takes the lead initially, his soloing ideas flowing effortlessly, melodious, and coherent. However, a compelling shift occurs midway as the ensemble recedes, paving the way for an impassioned duet between Sinnett and Wilson. Here, Sinnett’s virtuosic command of the toms and snare drum captivates the listener. The ensemble then seamlessly re-emerges, accompanying Farnham’s spirited solo, ultimately looping us back to the initial, high-energy motif.
Frank Foster’s excellent composition “Simone” showcases Sinnett’s adroitness in creatively arranging a jazz standard. Farnham’s application of quartal harmony, combined with Sinnett’s polyrhythmic drumming, infuses a contemporary edge into this timeless piece. Brecker’s performance is a study in warmth and relaxation, his melodious tone beautifully weaving through the melody into a profound solo, all within Sinnett’s responsive rhythmic waltz framework. Farnham’s exploration of harmonic possibilities, utilizing techniques such as pentatonic scales and quartal harmonies, creates a balance of single notes and chords that contribute to the overall musicality of the piece. The cadence section stands out with its intriguing harmonic flow, bolstered by Sinnett’s powerful drumming, leading to a captivating rubato conclusion.
Commitment is a compelling testament to the power of jazz in its ability to communicate complex emotions and narratives. Uniting a cadre of accomplished musicians, the album serves as a rich tapestry of rhythmic, harmonic, and melodic explorations. Each track resonates with its own distinct identity, showcasing the collective virtuosity and versatility of the ensemble while underpinning Sinnett’s creative genius as a drummer, composer, arranger, and bandleader. Commitment encapsulates the essence of modern jazz while revering its traditional roots, showcasing Sinnett’s profound understanding and reverence for the genre. The album emphasizes that commitment is indeed the key to achieving excellence, a philosophy that shines brightly in every note played throughout this impressive record.