"Great On Paper brings to mind some of the spareness that is often associated with Nordic jazz."
A group [Robin Baytas-drm, Kevin Sun-ts, Isaac Wilson- p, Simón Willson-b] calling itself GREAT ON PAPER [ Endectomorph Music 888295 379854], has issued a CD by the same name, recorded 3/7/15. This short [36:26] CD, tentatively led (I think) by Sun, covers a variety of originals and non-originals [I Hear A Rhapsody, O Sacrum Convivium] for a total of 6 tunes. While this is a short recording it offers lots to pay attention to. Great On Paper brings to mind some of the spareness that is often associated with Nordic jazz. There is also an element of late ‘40s Monk, at times of breathing inward while at times they seem intent on stretching a sound just short of silence. They really sound quite original with just a touch of Ran Blake obstinance. Solos are carefully crafted and thought out without sounding forced or pretentious. This CD doesn’t offer an easy listen on familiar terms but like it or leave it, this offers an original approach and interpretations.
— Bob Rusch, Cadence Magazine (April 2016)
"...technical masters of the genre...with a few self-conscious moments here and there."
Emmanuel Elone reviewed GREAT ON PAPER for PopMatters, giving the band 7 stars out of 10. You'll have fun reading the review.
Read the full review here.
"...[Great On Paper] has far more going for it than its jesting name implies ... the end result is substantial" — David R. Adler
David R. Adler wrote a lovely review of GREAT ON PAPER for the March 2016 issue of The New York City Jazz Record. Check out the full issue here as a .pdf (review on page 27), with the full review reposted below, courtesy of TNYCJR:
It’s a pleasure to report that Great on Paper, the collaborative quartet of tenor and soprano saxophonist Kevin Sun, pianist Isaac Wilson, bassist Simón Willson and drummer Robin Baytas, has far more going for it than its jesting name implies. The band’s eponymous debut includes just six tunes—two Sun originals, one from Wilson, another from Willson, a standard and a Messiaen interpretation. The 36 minutes go by fast and yet the end result is substantial.
Sun is a prolific transcriber who has blogged extensively about his study of everyone from Lester Young to Mark Turner. You hear that work pay off not only in the depth of his ideas but also in the warmth and fullness of his tenor tone. Wilson is also an inspired and technically adept soloist who knows when to give Sun room and when to create more for himself. He and Sun have a way of breathing together through every unison line and harmonic wrinkle. The agile, flowing swing and confident sound projection of Willson and Baytas also shows a strong musical bond.
The open feel and rhythmic tension of Sun’s opening “Winnings” and unique bebop derivation of his “Negative Bird” bring the group’s aesthetic intofocus. Willson’s slower “Slimy Toboggan”, which winds through exploratory rubato and builds intensity, finds Sun and Wilson manipulating unison pitch in a most unexpected way. Wilson’s “Torsion” establishes its layered complexity and groove from the first note.
But it is jam-session standby “I Hear a Rhapsody” that elicits the longest take, lending the album something like the arc of a live set. Here the band flexes some muscle in a convincing down-the-middle swing feel, with Willson getting a conclusive solo chorus as well. Sun’s time in the transcription shed with the likes of Sonny Rollins, Joe Henderson and Bob Berg is well in evidence, though he’s clearly a player who sees the big picture and his evolving place within it.
—David R. Adler, The New York City Jazz Record
"...joyfully rambunctious" — Step Tempest
Richard Kamins over at Step Tempest writes:
One has to admire the chutzpah/cheek of a musical ensemble that names itselfGreat On Paper. The 4 musicians that make up the group - Robin Baytas (drums), Kevin Sun (tenor saxophone), Isaac Wilson (piano) and Simon Willson (acoustic bass) - seemingly have no fear. The musicians had met as students in 2011, became a working band in 2013, and recorded their self-titled debut album (issued on Endectomorph Records) in 6 hours at Sears Sound in NYC on March 7, 2015 (they rode the bus down from and back to Boston, MA. And, they got pianist/blogger/composer Ethan Iverson to write the liner notes (there was a previous connection). So.......do they live up to or down from their name?
Read the full review.
"Mature Voices, Youthful Voices," 20 February, 2016.