Of all the musicians who have come through Wynton Marsalis' various ensembles, trombonist Wycliffe Gordon is one of the few who has made the most of his experience while developing an individualistic voice. Although you can hear the history of the music from Dixie to avant garde in his approach, he's been able to successfully channel that into a variety of different modes. The proof has been in the pudding, namely a wonderful selection of Criss Cross dates, each has its own slant, from gospel-tinged works to greasy organ combo grooves.
For Cone's Coup, Gordon has decided to go for a straight-ahead approach and a mix of original and standard material that is nonetheless engaging. Gordon shares the front line with up-and-comer Stacy Dillard, who has recently been working regularly with drummer Winard Harper. Dillard definitely shows promise based on his work here, and two old pals, Reginald Veal and Herlin Riley, assure solid support throughout on these dozen selections that each clock in at around five minutes.
Surely to be picked up by other musicians frustrated by noisy and rude audiences, Gordon's amusing vocals on "Shhh!!! (The Band Is Trying To Play) and "Hush Yo' Mouf implore those inclined to conversation to quiet down for the sake of the music. As much fun as these numbers are, tracks like "The Breaks and "Mister P.C. really reveal Gordon's impressive chops. He's managed to do what few of his generation can do: combine all the techniques of the swing era with the language of bebop and a warm melodic tone.
One minor point of contention might be what seems like an effort to explore too much territory by the use of many short performances. It might have been more advantageous to develop a smaller number of ideas more fully. Still, Gordon's fans will certainly want to hear this one, and anyone remotely interested in the current state of jazz trombone will find much of the music here enlightening.
Personnel: Wycliffe Gordon: trombone & vocal; Stacy Dillard: tenor and soprano sax; Johnny O'Neal:
piano; Reginald Veal: bass; Herlin Riley: drums.