CD REVIEW: Teddy Presberg - Blueprint of Soul
By Alex Jasperse - 02/27/2007 - 11:56 PM EST
Artist: Teddy Presberg
Album: Blueprint of Soul 
Label: Three Pin Records
Genre: Blues Rock, Improvisational Jazz
Production/Musicianship Grade: 9/10
Songwriting Skills: 9/10
Performance Skill: 8.5/10
Think about speaking, just for a moment. By talking we are infusing sounds with specific meanings. These meanings have become organized into words, and with the correct pronunciation, we come to learn that by taking sounds and adding meaning to them allows communication. Sound is the foundation for language, allowing dialogue to be possible. This begs the question: can there be a communications process without predetermined meanings, with only the use of musical tones? Can meaning still be conveyed?
Having spent a number of years developing his guitar chops in the St. Louis jazz and blues scene, Teddy Presberg’s debut solo release, Blueprint of Soul, is surprisingly just that. Proudly wearing a badge of honesty, it offers a collection of witty, crafty and enticing group improvisations that speak with a creative life all their own.
As a whole, the album is a haunting and richly assembled work of stripped down blues-rock and improvisational jazz. More than just an enjoyable jam session, the changing four-part ensembles offer up a subtle interplay of accessible melodies and rhythms. With quirky John Scofield-like phrasing mixed together with hints of Grant Green’s legendary playing, it makes for an immensely entertaining and enlightening ride.
The album’s opening track, “The Blueprint”, is a treat of sustained keyboards lines backing Presberg’s sweet and commanding tonal control over his instrument. Followed by a sudden change of pace, held down by the four to the floor rhythmic lines, “Colonel Summers” is a tour de force of dynamic exchanges. Shifting in and out of melodies while still retaining a structural coherency, it offers an excitingly open and honest conversation between the bass, guitar and organ.
Tracks like “My Bird Can Fly” play with sultry and laid-back grooves, injecting guitar driven and organ accentuated melodies with savory stop-time fills. Playfully devious tracks such as “The Dig” and “82nd Ave Strut” hint at the avant-garde influence of Medeski, Martin & Wood – interrupting the groove midway to welcome in tribal drumbeats and octave dancing guitar lines.
Presberg’s colourful mix of instrumentation allows for numerous rhythmic and tonal variations to be explored throughout. “Sunrise of St. John’s” begins as a psych-rock jam and evolves into a lumbering, bass-driven melody that’s mischievous, yet secures the slightly menacing wah guitar that paces from left to right. Tracks such as the breezy and sensual “Free Love” are esoteric, allowing you to briefly peek in and hear some of the magic going on between the instruments involved. This underlying playfulness comes together and adds a hip and suave vibe, lending the album so much of its stylishness.
Perhaps the only flaw in this album is that Presberg’s playing borders on selfish. That’s not to say that he should take a backseat and be resigned to a support instrument (as his leadership role enables him to sidestep predictability and direct the grooves toward new paths to explore). However, with six bandmates behind him, it would be a pleasure to hear what could be created if the group were to refine their sound and incorporate the myriad of influences that are apparent – whether improvised or not.
So can meaning be conveyed without words? Can it really be conveyed with only one part of the equation: music? By not confining himself to words, Presberg’s smartly retro-hip and instrumental dialogues allow him to successfully present a number of openly honest conversations. Some meanings are defined, slyly intertwining late night cool jazz sounds with smoky dance floor imagery, yet many others are enigmatic at the same time. Adding a new flavour to any environment, Blueprint of Soul will definitely be the secret ingredient everyone will be talking about.
The Verdict: 8.8/10
For more information, please contact Teddy Presberg at firstname.lastname@example.org
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