Album Review: Michael Pedicin – Why Stop Now…Ubuntu

This review first appeared in the October 2013 issue of Eric Nemeyer’s Jazz Inside Magazine

Michael Pedicin

Michael Pedicin

WHY STOP NOW…UBUNTU – GroundBlue Records GB0001  Why Stop Now; Tunji; Downtown Found; Then I Saw You; Trane Stop; 27 Up; Newtown; Song of The Underground Railroad; Ubuntu

PERSONNEL: Michael Pedicin, tenor saxophone; Johnnie Valentino, guitar; Andy Lalasis, acoustic bass; Rick Germanson, acoustic piano, fender rhodes piano; Vic Stevens, drums

By Curtis Davenport

For every “star” that the jazz media gets excited about, there are ten cats like Michael Pedicin.

Guys who are strong technicians, who day in and day out can play just about anything, who make a living in the studios and on the big name tours but whose names are forgotten by the public as soon as they are mentioned by the star when/if they introduce the band. Michael Pedicin’s name was new to me when I received this disc for review but there was something naggingly familiar about it. I had heard of him before but I couldn’t recall where. Then I started doing a bit of research and it all came together. I cut my musical teeth on the albums in the ‘70’s that came out of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff’s Philadelphia International Records. Geek that I was/am, I also read the liner notes of these albums voraciously.  Michael Pedicin (or Michael Pedicin, Jr. as he was known then) appeared in the sax section of a countless number of these records.  In addition to his time over at Sigma Sound Studios, Pedicin spent two years in Dave Brubeck’s group, founded Temple University’s jazz studies program and earned a doctorate in psychology.   Now Michael Pedicin is finally playing the music that he wants to play. Why Stop Now…Ubuntu is the latest in a series of strong, personal musical statements that Pedicin has made over the last six years.

Pedicin freely admits to having two major musical influences, Michael Brecker and John Coltrane. The two covers on the album are Coltrane tunes. However even on the other selections, which were composed by Pedicin or members of his band, the spirit of the two mentors is quite strong. “Tunji”, a rarely covered tune from the 1962 Coltrane album, is majestic with a searching statement from Pedicin’s sax, which cascades through multiple choruses and a swinging 4/4 solo by pianist Rick Germanson. The doubling of the tenor and Johnnie Valentino’s guitar on the melody line adds a nice touch. “Song of the Underground Railroad”, from The Complete Africa/Brass Sessions, is given a quasi hip hop update, which works only because of Pedicin’s hard grooving solo.

Mr. Pedicin is also an outstanding interpreter of ballads, which is evidenced on “Then I Saw You”, written by Valentino, on which the tenorman lets his passion flow as he caresses each note, making an articulate, romantic statement before turning things over to Mr. Valentino for a tasty single line solo. “Newtown” is a heartbreaking tribute to the victims of the infamous mass murder at the Connecticut elementary school, also written by Valentino. Here Pedicin is more like Brecker than Trane as he conveys the despair that we all felt on that day last December, before changing tempo in the mid-section as he looks for hope in the midst of the bleakness. “Why Stop Now” crackles with energy as Pedcin alternates staccato and legato passages in front of Rick Germanson’s rolling piano and Valentino’s guitar. Valentino, a noted L.A. session cat, is a strong composer and has a bit of Grant Green in his guitar, which for me is never a bad thing. Milwaukee native Germanson is a veteran of many recordings, including four good records as a leader. His skittish solo on “Trane Stop” is a highlight.

For me, the difference between an “artist” and a “performer” is the finding of one’s voice. It can come at an early age, it can come late or it can never come. Michael Pedicin apparently found his sometime around age 60 and Why Stop Now…Ubuntu is one of the sweet fruits.


One Response to “Album Review: Michael Pedicin – Why Stop Now…Ubuntu”

  1. Clifford Tracy Says:

    Love this Mike 🙂 Congratulations!

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