As advertised, Elliott Caine brings back the '60s Blue Note style of straight-ahead jazz with this trumpet-led ensemble of veterans. Nine original compositions and one jazz standard provide a soulful program for groupings of four to seven players. The numbers are just right; the trumpeter finds a rhythmic groove with each lineup and continues to create adventure with each selection.
Caine's bright trumpet stands out for its cool leadership, as well as the cohesive partnerships he strikes up with several of his sidemen. The album's title track, "Blues from Mars, stands alone as a creative oddity, since the theremin and tannerin are employed for special effects. They're used sparingly, however, allowing the album's emphasis on hard bop to remain at the forefront.
Elsewhere, Caine brings back the spirit of Lee Morgan through his memorable compositions. "Outside In pairs Caine's brilliant trumpet with Carl Randall's tenor in a tension and release scenario that grabs you tight and won't let go. "Blues for the Revolution features the septet in a thundering, sizzling romp.
"La Verdad es la Verdad provides the kind of rhythmic heat that starts the room rockin' in celebration. "I Thought About You features Caine's lyrical flugelhorn in a lovely duet with bass that morphs into a soul-searching quartet affair of the heart.
"Fields of Jazz, in memory of Sam Fields, one of LA's most notable jazz radio personalities, drives straight-ahead with a soulful strut. Blues from Mars is highly recommended. In addition to the leader's qualified trumpet, it features superb solo blowing from his sidemen, particularly baritone saxophonist Michael Rose, tenor saxophonist Carl Randall, pianist John Rangel, vibraphonist DJ Bonebrake and bassist Bill Markus.
Personnel: Elliott Caine: trumpet, flugelhorn; Carl Randall: tenor saxophone; John Rangel: piano; Bill Markus: bass; Kenny Elliott: drums; Munyungo Jackson, Antoine Cayito Dearborn, Inocente Alvarez: congas; DJ Bonebrake: vibraphone; Probyn Gregory: theremin, tannerin; Justo Almario: tenor saxophone; Michael Rose: baritone saxophone.