Congressional Roll Call: Congressional Roll Call (2004)
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Congressional Roll Call is a jazz sextet led by musician and educator Scott Reeves. Reeves, who is on the faculty of the State College of New York, CUNY and the Julliard School, is also the author of books on jazz improvisation. As a composer Reeves penned five of the nine pieces on the recording. The CD also includes arrangements of standards such as Rodgers and Hart's "Spring is Here" and a Latin treatment of Kurt Weill's "Speak Low." Reeves is joined by a group of excellent sidemen and vocalist Janet Reeves on "Speak Low."
The CD opens with an up-tempo Latin-inspired composition, "Saudado," featuring Reeves on trombone and Bill Mobley on trumpet. The title cut is an interesting piece that begins typically inside, but toward the middle the musicians begin to take it further out on the fringes of straight-ahead jazz toward more of an avant-garde collective improvisation. "Strays" is a ballad that is very reminiscent of Billy Strayhorn. One cannot help but be reminded of "Chelsea Bridge" when hearing it. Likewise, pianist James Williams' "Four Play" brings to mind the compositions of Thelonious Monk. Perhaps the most unique piece on the CD is the exotic-sounding "You Are What You Think," which has Reeves playing a duet with himself on alto flugelhorn and didgeridoo.
The beautiful ballad "Remembrances" is in many ways the centerpiece of the CD. This, the longest composition on the recording, certainly has a sentimental and longing tone to it. Both horn players weave melodic counterpoint around one another over a rhythm section that is supportive, yet stays out of the way, and most all of the musicians in Congressional Roll Call are featured at one point or another on the piece. "Ciao Luna" is another Latin-influenced piece, featuring solos by Reeves, Mobley and Williams. The recording concludes with "Spring is Here." The arrangement performed by Congressional Roll Call is an upfront and up-tempo version that brings the CD to an enjoyable close.
Congressional Roll Call will appeal to lovers of straight-ahead swinging jazz with a couple of twists. The playing is fine, and the quality of the recording is excellent. The group plays with a great groove and is pleasurable listening.
Track Listing: Saudado, Congressional Roll Call, Strays, Four Play, Speak Low, You Are What You Think, Rememberances, Ciao Luna, Spring Is Here
Personnel: Scott Reeves (trombone, alto flugelhorn, didgeridoo), Bill Mobley (trumpet and flugelhorn), Kenny Werner (piano), James Williams (piano), John Lockwood (bass), Bob Gullotti (drums), Janet Reeves (vocals)
Record Label: Creative Jazz Records