Live At The Baked Potato
Review by Willard Manus

Charged Particles is a band that loves to tackle challenging material, especially by avant-garde jazz composers. A case in point is LIVE AT THE BAKED POTATO, the new Summit Records release in which they pay tribute to the music of the late Michael Brecker.

Brecker, a titan on the saxophone, was also a prolific and adventurous composer (he died in 2007 at age 57). Charged Particles (Murray Low, keyboards; Aaron Germain, bass; Jon Krosnick, drums) invited tenor-man Tod Dickow to join forces with them on LIVE, which was recorded at L.A.’s Baked Potato on March 17, 2019.

“I certainly listened to enough of Mike’s music that it’s going to come out in my playing,” said Dickow. “But it’s not really like I’ve ever outright tried to imitate him. I just know some of the devices that he used have become part of my playing. He’s a model of perfection and I’ve always looked at his playing as something to strive for.”

Dickow and Charged Particles spent considerable time rehearsing the music they played at the Baked Potato, if only because it was so difficult and demanding with its tricky tempos and dramatic leaps into the high registers of the jazz idiom. “When people listen to us, they realize that we’ve done the homework to put on a show that took preparation and that has lots of dramatic value and communicative power as a result,” said Krosnick.

Of LIVE’s nine tracks, all were written by Brecker, except for the lyrical tune, “Talking to Myself” which was composed by Don Grolnick. Charged Particles plays its heart out on tunes like “Peep,” “Arc of the Pendulum” and “African Skies” (congas by Omar Ledezma), enjoying the opportunity to explore open-ended music in a free and high-spirited way.