Here’s a consistently colorful, invariably swinging and completely captivating quartet date led by one of the finest trombonists you’ve probably never heard. Rodger Fox, best known as the foreman of New Zealand’s most prominent big band (track eight on this disc, “Xtra Juicy,” is also the name of the ensemble’s newest release), displays the brash awareness and awesome chops that are the hallmark of such celebrated ’bonemeisters as Carl Fontana, Frank Rosolino, Jimmy Knepper, Slide Hampton, Urbie Green, Phil Wilson and Andy Martin, among others. Fox has imported a world–class American rhythm section for the occasion, and adds two trombones (Bruce Paulson and longtime friend and colleague Bill Reichenbach) on “Xtra Juicy,” which he composed along with “Ferry–Nuff.” Aside from the standards (“Loverman,” on which Fox unveils his most Fontana–like persona, and “There Is No Greater Love”) the diverse program includes Mingus’s “Nostalgia in Times Square” and more recent originals by ! pianist Cunliffe (“Napier”), Bruce Johnstone (“Back to Being One”) and flutist Holly Hoffman (the prancing opener, “Truer Blues,” on which Fox’s double– and triple–tongueing passages induce further images of Rosolino/Fontana, as they do also on “No Greater Love”). While the trombonist’s voice is heard most often, Cunliffe causes his flourishing reputation no harm with a number of intensely swinging choruses, bassist Warrington asserts himself on the shuffling “Napier,” and drummer Houghton (who with Warrington keeps flawless time) has some brief but effective moments on “Nostalgia.” Sound quality and over–all balance are quite good, with one noticeable splice near the end of “Loverman.” To paraphrase Cole Porter, trombone enthusiasts should get a kick out of this.
Track listing: Truer Blues; Nostalgia in Times Square; Back to Being One; Napier; Loverman; There Is No Greater Love; Ferry–Nuff; Xtra Juicy (55:17).
Rodger Fox, trombone; Bill Cunliffe, piano; Tom Warrington, bass; Steve Houghton, drums; Bruce Paulson, Bill Reichenbach, trombones (on