Tim Eyerman and the New East Coast Offering would seem to have a lot going for them. Their show last night at the Folger Theater featured bright, snappy jazz-rock numbers with hummable and melodic touches. The musicians were competent and the songs were designed to highlight their solo abilities. Breaks were tight and sharp, ensemble sections were smoothly wrought and the rhythms sizzled with a driving energy.

There was a catch, however.

While they have mastered the means of expression, the group -- and leader Eyerman in particular -- appeared to have little to express. Their compositions were mostly mindless, funky contraptions that would make a perfect background for a TV cop show but not much else. The melodies were "pretty" enough but they led nowhere -- they were merely strung together, and served as transitional devices for the various solos, as opposed to being musical statements. The solos themselves also had the same disjointed character -- they were well-played but seemed to be tacked on to rather than growing out of, the composition. The set was full of instrumental fireworks that lacked a resounding artistic "boom."

The New East Coast Offering is a a young group and they need time to mature and develop a substance to go with their style. They are like a group of skilled actors who are still searching for a meaningful script.