Trumpeter Terell Stafford chimes in with Nagel-Heyer's fifth release in their 2000 series, a series that includes releases by Wycliffe Gordon, Byron Stripling, and David Glasser. This is Nagel-Heyer's progressive arm of their label, one that is better known for recording straight-ahead, traditional jazz in the vein of Louis Armstrong. Stafford blasts squarely out of the mainstream almost smooth jazz. But make no mistake, this is jazz. Nothing contemporary-fusion about it. Straight down the middle mainstream acoustic. Hooray!
This is a recording of tightly arranged and performed originals (Stafford got almost everyone in the band to compose a piece) and not so standard standards ("Ill Wind" and "September in the Rain"). Never being a big fan of Antonio Hart, I found him to be quite the perfect foil for Stafford. Together, they have fashioned a finely crafted series of pieces, arrangements, and solos, all in that order. They swing in a succinct and propulsive manner. The disc is summed up on the Bill Cunliffe contribution, "Minnesota," where everyone solos extremely well.
If I were to define an overall mood, I would say light Bossa Nova. Certainly "Hey, It'' Me..." and Stafford's own "Dear Ruby" fill that bill. But as soon as I say that, things get a little greasy with Stafford's "Ms. Shirley Scott." Fueled by Cunliffe's chicken shack organ and Kitagawa's walking bass, Ms. Scott proves to be a saucy and daring lady. Stafford chooses tow traditional pieces, a samba heavy "If I Perish" and a 3/4 "His Eye is on the Sparrow." All other pieces follow suite. Fields of Gold is superb debut on a super label. Merci!
Track Listing: Hey, It's Me You're Talking To; Minnesota; Dear Ruby; Ms. Shirley Scott; Ill Wind; If I Perish; Sagittarius; I Believe In You; His Eye Is On The Sparrow; Flashdance; That's All; September In The Rain. (Total Time: 73:38)
Personnel: Terell Stafford: trumpet; Antonio Hart: alto aaxophone; Bill Cunliffe: piano, organ; Kiyoshi Kitagawa: bass; Rodney Green: drums.