For the extraordinary drummer/composer Jack Mouse’s latest album Intimate Adversary, he departs from his two previous collaborative and more freely improvised Tall Grass releases – Snakeheads & Ladybugs and Three-Story Sandbox – to focus on his outstanding compositional talents and mastery of classic jazz leadership. Accompanied by his brilliant longtime cohorts, his quintet takes on nine pieces that display their command of all forms of post bop era jazz, along with a delightful taste of 50s-style swing and a compelling gospel blues.
The musicianship is exceptional, not only in terms of the consummate artistry, but also in that most precious element of jazz expressiveness that can only exist in the essence of musicians who know, respect and love each other’s creativity, producing that perfect synergy of unified intent. Even a seemingly simple blues is transformed into a multi-faceted gem. Further unifying the ensemble is Jack’s marvelous drumming – always viscerally creative, stimulating the soloists and providing the bonding substance that fortifies the structure. Mouse also composed eight of the nine pieces, the ninth co-composed with Robinson and Bowman – a work that embraces the more collective style of Jack’s other recent albums…. and provides tangible evidence that “free” jazz is of the identical substance in rich musicality to the more traditionally recognized forms.
Intimate Adversary is a wonderful excursion into jazz expression at the crossroads of tradition, adventure, virtuosity and joyful exuberance.
Jack Mouse Group
Tall Grass Records (TG8284)
Jack Mouse - drums
Scott Robinson - tenor saxophone
Art Davis - trumpet & flugelhorn
John McLean - guitar
Bob Bowman - bass
1. Barney's Fife
2. Old, New & Used Testaments
3. Intimate Adversary
4. Adamant Inversary
5. Nineteen Sixty-Five
6. Twas Never Thus
8. Three Heads Are Better Than One
9. Three Free
Marc Phillips, The Vinyl Anachronist
“Intimate Adversary is "post-bop" jazz, played by a superb quintet. Each member gets a chance to show off his considerable talent, but it's drummer Jack Mouse who supplies the inspiration--everything from the complex and varied drumming style to the humor in the arrangements and even song titles… The recording sounds absolutely great, allowing each musician to exist cleanly in his own space. The entire span of Intimate Adversary is so expertly told, and in such a classic way, that you'll feel you're in the most capable of hands and you can finally relax and enjoy the flow.”