Wetmore, a Newburyport native, was ping-ponging between majors at Cornell when he decided to take time off to study with New England Conservatory guru Ran Blake. "It was intense. He lives in a basement apartment. A dark room with nothing but music." Blake's well-noted ear-training system involves learning small sections of music — "12 bars of a Billie Holiday song per week." The goal is to completely absorb every interval and ultimately transcend style, and to make the choices for an improviser fully conscious and deliberate, rather than something that "happens because your fingers have done it a bunch of times."
That said, Wetmore-the-soloist makes only brief appearances on Desired Effect. Instead, his chording and rhythmic thrust embeds each piece with its distinct architecture. Which, for the moment, is fine by Wetmore. "The band's been around long enough that it feels like an extension of the piano. It feels like its own instrument that I know how to write and play for."
TOM WETMORE ENSEMBLE | Lily Pad, 1353 Cambridge St, Cambridge | July 21 @ 10 pm | $10
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