Canadian Dylan Cramer follows up his Sonny Criss Tribute disc The First One
(DSM 3016, 1998) with an energetic collection of standards performed by his exceptional alto-led quartet. A student of Criss, Cramer’s tone is certainly influenced by him without being imitative of it. His tone is dry with a slight vibrato. Cramer is more Johnny Hodges than Charlie Parker, more early Art Pepper than Paul Desmond, and more Sonny Criss than Sonny Stitt.
Deliberate Improvisation. Dylan Cramer plays with a deliberate joy and cpability that reveals both his practice and dedication. While a competent blues player, I find Cramer’s playing more lyrical than blues-based, much in the same way that Fred Hersch is more lyrically centered in his piano playing. He does however rock on the disc closer, Miles’ “So What”.
The Songs. Cramer’s choice of standards contains some surprises. “Bumpin’”, Wes Montgomery’s slow burning signature, adapts well to the alto arena. Likewise for Oliver Nelson’s “Stolen Moments”. It conforms effectively to Cramer’s smaller format. “Estate” and Black Orpheus” have an attractive and understated Latinesque quality. “Loverman” is tender and caressing. The only hard point on the disc is an almost dirge-like “My Funny Valentine.” While effective, it is funereal.
There is no fault to be found in Cramer’s beautiful tone and song choice. His rhythm section is more than capable and provides him informed support. All Night Long is a fine follow-up to The First One. Recommended.
Personnel: Dylan Cramer: Alto Saxophone; Ron Johnson: Piano; Steve Holy: Bass; John Nolan: Drums.