Well here is something unusual- a new release on the Evidence label. Those apprised of the label's quality output in the past should take note when they release records as infrequently as they do anymore. But onto the record itself, which has plenty to say for itself.
This is the second record by up-and-coming alto player Craig Bailey, a Cincinnati-born jazzer (rare thing in itself) whom Bobby Watson first recognized as a major talent on alto. Coming up in the bands of Charli Persip, Slide Hampton, and Jimmy Heath. Bobby Watson spotted his talent early on and so he was able to land Bailey some fine gigs. He had a good stint in the band TanaReid, and is also a longtime member of the Ray Charles orchestra, which of course has been an unassuming haven of jazz talent in the past. Bailey had his recording debut as a leader on the Candid Label with a self-titled release.
On "Brooklyn" Bailey gives us a dose of pure unadulterated hard-bop, of the kind moreover that is regularly played in jam sessions at the Dean Street Cafe in Brooklyn where Bailey presides. There is well-played, inventive music at hand here, and through it all we get a nice glimpse of a working band that is tapped into some common goals. Bailey's main foil here is Derrick Gardner, an undersung trumpeter who is very much in the same mindset musically as Bailey- playing in the hard-bop style but playing with a zest just as if it were today's music. They are able to convince often enough here that it is truly the case.
This album opens eventfully in the boisterous "The Crux of the Matter"- no brass is spared here, and no swing held back. The cover of Benny Golson's chestnut Along Came Betty is a breezy walk in the park- a nice cut showing reverence for Jazz in many ways. As well, "Lena" is a burnished-sounding ballad that does not soon fade from the mind. And Craig Bailey makes his Alto heritage clear soon enough on this record; he sounds a good deal like Donald Harrison (lovely tone!!) but comparisons to Bobby Watson are valid too.
An interesting wrinkle here is Bailey's one-note melody, called, of all things "Bailey's Bounce." It is hardly a bounce but the melody is a nice change-of-pace and the soloing which follows is fine, as it is throughout here on "Brooklyn."
Any fans of hard-bop should appreciate this solid, well-rounded effort, and fans of the Evidence label or of Cincinnati-born jazz musicians (two connoisseur affectations it would seem) similarly ought to find this record by Craig Bailey and his associates, quite worth their listen.
Personnel: Craig Bailey- alto sax, flute; Derrick Gardner- trumpet, fluegelhorn; Dupor Georges- trombone; Kelvin Sholar- piano; Eric Lemon- bass; Vincent Ector- drums. Guests: Oliver Gatto- bass; Rufus Reid- bass; Antonio Ciacca- piano; Tim Armacost- tenor.