When experienced and accomplished musicians come together, good things usually happen. That is the case with Project Them, featuring Bob Franceschini and Mark Sherman. The album, Project TH3M (Miles High Records, 2013) is a set of mostly original songs.
Franceschini plays tenor saxophone and flute; Sherman plays vibraphone. The two leaders were students together at the High School of Music and Art in New York City.
With them are Mitchel Forman, piano and organ; Martin Gjakonovski, bass; Adam Nussbaum, drums; and Paolo Di Sabatino, piano. Each has established himself as a leader or a session player with other artists. Collectively, their associations include Mike Stern, the Yellowjackets, Dave Liebman, Stan Getz, Gil Evans, Gary Burton, Kenny Wheeler, Mel Torme, Gerry Mulligan, Wayne Shorter and the Mahavinshu Orchestra.
“Submissive Dominants,” penned by Sherman, is a straightforward jazz piece. Tenor and vibes unite for the melody before Franceschini takes point. There is plenty of activity behind the lead. The tenor gets a good workout with intense support from the others. Then things go quiet for Sherman’s highlight. After a high-speed roll, Sherman and the rhythm section gradually build up before reverting to the main theme.
Franceschini wrote “Minor Turns,” a freely expressive selection. The tenor and vibes do their things, but the thrill of this song lies in the accompaniment. Bass, organ and drums shine even when the spotlight isn’t on them.
Project Them began touring in early 2013, playing in Europe and grooming some of the tunes on Project TH3M.