Ralph Peterson Fo’Tet

NEW YORK--Drummer Ralph Peterson impressed mightily with his first extended stand as bandleader in New York at Sweet Basil last week.

NEW YORK–Drummer Ralph Peterson impressed mightily with his first extended stand as bandleader in New York at Sweet Basil last week.

Peterson’s Fo’tet (literally, fourtet) has unusual instrumentation–bass clarinet, vibes, bass and drums–that recalls the Eric Dolphy/Bobby Hutcherson collaboration 30 years ago. However, this high-energy music is an original.

Vibraphonist Bryan Carrot tended to dominate the group in intensity, notably during the quartet’s best blowing vehicle, “Urban Omen,” which he penned (featured on their current Blue Note CD “Ornettology”). Unlike the lyrical piano/vibes blend typifying groups led by George Shearing or Herbie Hancock, having a drummer in charge results here in equally percussive vibes work.

Soloist Don Byron seemed more comfortable and expansive soloing on clarinet than on bass clarinet, though the latter instrument (pioneered in jazz by the late Dolphy) provided the group’s distinctive ensemble sound.

Peterson exploited the bass/bass clarinet close duet during his own drum solos. Bassist Belden Bullock ably sustained a steady pulse while his three cohorts frequently shifted into free jazz intervals.

Opening set on opening night featured varied material, including the Billy Strayhorn theme “Johnny Come Lately” (played in intriguing stop-start fashion). Despite his emphasis on dynamics, Peterson had the men come on too strong, with a loud, frenetic approach proving inappropriate on Wayne Shorter’s lovely ballad “Iris” or Sammy Fain’s “I Can Dream, Can’t I.”

More gigs should allow this adventurous group to tone down its aggressive stance and make room for the potential beauty in vibes and clarinet playing.

Ralph Peterson Fo'Tet

(Sweet Basil; 130 seats; $ 15 music charge, $ 6 minimum)

Production: Reviewed July 21, 1992.

Cast: With more seasoning, the ensemble could become a major alternative force on the scene.

More Legit

  • Patricia Morison Dead: 'Kiss Me Kate'

    Patricia Morison, Stage Star of 'Kiss Me, Kate,' Dies at 103

    NEW YORK–Drummer Ralph Peterson impressed mightily with his first extended stand as bandleader in New York at Sweet Basil last week. Peterson’s Fo’tet (literally, fourtet) has unusual instrumentation–bass clarinet, vibes, bass and drums–that recalls the Eric Dolphy/Bobby Hutcherson collaboration 30 years ago. However, this high-energy music is an original. Vibraphonist Bryan Carrot tended to dominate […]

  • Prince Harry Meghan Markle

    Who's on the Royal Wedding Guest List?

    NEW YORK–Drummer Ralph Peterson impressed mightily with his first extended stand as bandleader in New York at Sweet Basil last week. Peterson’s Fo’tet (literally, fourtet) has unusual instrumentation–bass clarinet, vibes, bass and drums–that recalls the Eric Dolphy/Bobby Hutcherson collaboration 30 years ago. However, this high-energy music is an original. Vibraphonist Bryan Carrot tended to dominate […]

  • In the Heights

    'In the Heights': Warner Bros. Wins Movie Rights to Lin-Manuel Miranda's Musical

    NEW YORK–Drummer Ralph Peterson impressed mightily with his first extended stand as bandleader in New York at Sweet Basil last week. Peterson’s Fo’tet (literally, fourtet) has unusual instrumentation–bass clarinet, vibes, bass and drums–that recalls the Eric Dolphy/Bobby Hutcherson collaboration 30 years ago. However, this high-energy music is an original. Vibraphonist Bryan Carrot tended to dominate […]

  • School of Rock

    'School of Rock' Captures the Heart and Soul of Messy Adolescence

    NEW YORK–Drummer Ralph Peterson impressed mightily with his first extended stand as bandleader in New York at Sweet Basil last week. Peterson’s Fo’tet (literally, fourtet) has unusual instrumentation–bass clarinet, vibes, bass and drums–that recalls the Eric Dolphy/Bobby Hutcherson collaboration 30 years ago. However, this high-energy music is an original. Vibraphonist Bryan Carrot tended to dominate […]

  • From left, creators David Henry Hwang,

    David Henry Hwang Hopes Hillary Clinton Will See 'Soft Power'

    NEW YORK–Drummer Ralph Peterson impressed mightily with his first extended stand as bandleader in New York at Sweet Basil last week. Peterson’s Fo’tet (literally, fourtet) has unusual instrumentation–bass clarinet, vibes, bass and drums–that recalls the Eric Dolphy/Bobby Hutcherson collaboration 30 years ago. However, this high-energy music is an original. Vibraphonist Bryan Carrot tended to dominate […]

  • LaChanze

    Stagecraft Podcast: LaChanze on 'Summer,' Tony Boosts and Dream Roles

    NEW YORK–Drummer Ralph Peterson impressed mightily with his first extended stand as bandleader in New York at Sweet Basil last week. Peterson’s Fo’tet (literally, fourtet) has unusual instrumentation–bass clarinet, vibes, bass and drums–that recalls the Eric Dolphy/Bobby Hutcherson collaboration 30 years ago. However, this high-energy music is an original. Vibraphonist Bryan Carrot tended to dominate […]

  • Frozen Broadway

    'Frozen' North American Tour to Start at Hollywood Pantages

    NEW YORK–Drummer Ralph Peterson impressed mightily with his first extended stand as bandleader in New York at Sweet Basil last week. Peterson’s Fo’tet (literally, fourtet) has unusual instrumentation–bass clarinet, vibes, bass and drums–that recalls the Eric Dolphy/Bobby Hutcherson collaboration 30 years ago. However, this high-energy music is an original. Vibraphonist Bryan Carrot tended to dominate […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content