Although Paul Renz is a remarkably accomplished and eclectic jazz guitarist and composer, the jumble of descriptive terms that initially spring to mind when listening to his constantly unfolding, shifting music–tasty, fluid, fusion, funky–all fit but seem wholly inadequate. An East Coast native but longtime Twin Cities resident who teaches at the West Bank School of Music and MacPhail, Renz, with his quintet, will mark the release of his seventh album, In My Own Hands (Gabwalk), at Brit's Pub. Hands follows up last year's delightful Rebop with the same personnel, including in-demand flautist Anders Bostrom, who will be replaced by tenor saxophonist Andrew Schwandt at Brit's because he's playing with the Broadway musical Shrek. Hands offers prime examples of Renz's deliciously slippery music. Angular, pointillist forays by Renz and Bostrom kick off the title track, which eddies through successive luminous thematic pools, the flute soaring above a funky bottom forged by drummer Nathan Fryett and bassist Eric Graham before sliding into a crystalline piano passage from Brian Ziemniak. "Bluesing" is just that, a soulful stroll with Renz stringing juicy blues licks over Ziemniak's bubbling Hammond B3. "Take It Home" is a fiery bit of jazz-funk fusion, distinguished by a searing Renz electric solo and Graham's fat and funky bass over Fryett's New Orleans shuffle. "Near and Far" is an elegiac ballad, while the finale, "Off the Cuff," is a spiraling, funky workout. But that's just the straightforward stuff. Checking out the creases, negotiating the angles, and following the tangents of Renz's ever-evolving adventures promise ample rewards.
Sun., Dec. 20, 8 p.m., 2009