Mole is a dynamic, modern, and progressive jazz quartet. This debut album offers up an astoundingly diverse palette of modern jazz fusions, and the players are as diverse as the music, consisting of Mexican-born pianist-composer Mark Aanderud, New York guitarist David Gilmore, Argentinian drummer Hernan Hecht, and Mexican bassist Jorge Molina. Their combined sounds possess the modern dynamism of a group like the the Bad Plus and the eccentricities of fusion that run through the veins of classic players like Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea. What’s the Meaning? covers a lot of territory, from the spacious “Trees and the Old New Ones” to the driving “Flour Tortilla Variation”. Mole’s ability to seamlessly morph from sublime to funky is seldom pulled off with such keen sensibility.
The compositions are expertly arranged and executed thanks to the melodic interplay of Mark Aanderud and David Gilmore. Their conversations are wise. Aaderud’s focused playing serves to tether Gilmore’s creative wandering, and the result is accessible and deep. Hecht and Molina’s grooves stand out on tracks like “Stones” and “Greenland”. With all that is going on here, it is exciting to note that there is still room for these players to develop even further as a unit. An even tighter interplay between the melodic and rhythmic element of this group is certainly possible. But, as is, this is still an exceptional release that presents a surprising and wonderful balance. What’s the Meaning? is contemporary jazz at the top of its game.