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L.A. Six: Frame of Mind (2014)

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L.A. Six: Frame of Mind Once upon a time ('way back in the 1970s-80s) there was the peerless L.A. Four (Bud Shank
Bud Shank
Bud Shank
1926 - 2009
saxophone
, Laurindo Almeida
Laurindo Almeida
Laurindo Almeida
1917 - 1995
guitar
, Ray Brown
Ray Brown
Ray Brown
1926 - 2002
bass, acoustic
, Shelly Manne
Shelly Manne
Shelly Manne
1920 - 1984
drums
) and now we have the L.A. Six, another hard-swinging post-bop ensemble that has chosen to walk in some rather large shoes by recording a splendid debut album, Frame of Mind. With Tom Peterson assuming Shank's role as lead saxophonist, the front line has been expanded to include trumpeter Clay Jenkins
Clay Jenkins
Clay Jenkins
b.1964
trumpet
and trombonist Ira Nepus, ably supported by a top-rank rhythm section (pianist Rich Eames, bassist Jeff D'Angelo, drummer Dick Weller).

L.A. of course is unmistakably Los Angeles, and the musicians who comprise the L.A. Six are among the best that area of the country has to offer, earnest successors to such giants as Art Pepper
Art Pepper
Art Pepper
1925 - 1982
sax, alto
, Shorty Rogers
Shorty Rogers
Shorty Rogers
1924 - 1994
trumpet
, Gerry Mulligan
Gerry Mulligan
Gerry Mulligan
1927 - 1996
sax, baritone
, Bob Cooper
Bob Cooper
1925 - 1993
saxophone
, Frank Rosolino
Frank Rosolino
Frank Rosolino
1926 - 1978
trombone
, Stan Getz
Stan Getz
Stan Getz
1927 - 1991
sax, tenor
, Chet Baker
Chet Baker
Chet Baker
1929 - 1988
trumpet
, Claude Williamson
Claude Williamson
b.1926
piano
, Jimmy Giuffre
Jimmy Giuffre
Jimmy Giuffre
1921 - 2008
clarinet
, Lou Levy
Lou Levy
Lou Levy
1928 - 2001
piano
, Conte Candoli
Conte Candoli
Conte Candoli
1927 - 2001
trumpet
, Bill Holman
Bill Holman
Bill Holman
b.1927
sax, tenor
, Chico Hamilton
Chico Hamilton
Chico Hamilton
1921 - 2013
drums
, Russ Freeman
Russ Freeman
Russ Freeman
1926 - 2002
piano
and the many other pioneers of West Coast jazz, not to mention the members of the seminal L.A. Four. While the rapport and musicianship of the Six is impressive, the charts (five written by Eames, four by Peterson, one each by Jenkins and Weller) are no less so, bringing out the best in four standards, two originals by Eames ("Sight Seen at Twilight," "The Elms") and others by Jenkins, Weller, Sonny Stitt
Sonny Stitt
Sonny Stitt
1924 - 1982
saxophone
, Steve Strazzeri and Oliver Nelson
Oliver Nelson
Oliver Nelson
1932 - 1975
arranger
.

Any group that opens with Stitt's chops-twisting "Eternal Triangle" surely means business, and the Six readily earn their spurs on that one before moving on to Eames' "Twilight," Weller's "Wonder Where You Are" and Mack Gordon / Harry Warren's winsome standard, "I Wish I Knew," taken at a brisker pace than usual in Eames' charming arrangement. Jenkins wrote the ballad "Love Is Kind," which precedes Burton Lane / Ralph Freed's "How About You" and Eames' "The Elms." "You're My Thrill," once marvelously played by one of Manne's sextets, is followed by Strazzeri's lyrical "Frame of Mind," Leo Robin / Ralph Rainger's "If I Should Lose You" and Nelson's bluesy finale, "Yearnin.'"

The ensemble, as noted, is close-knit, the soloists bracing and resourceful within their normal comfort zone. It's especially gratifying to hear Jenkins in a straight-ahead format (dig his ardent solo on "How About You"). As drummer Peter Erskine
Peter Erskine
Peter Erskine
b.1954
drums
notes in a brief commentary: "Tom Peterson has put together a collection of music and musicians that refreshingly recalls the best of West Coast jazz while pointing toward future horizons. Bravo." Well said, Peter.


Track Listing: The Eternal Triangle; Sight Seen at Twilight; Wonder Where You Are; I Wish I Knew; Love Is Kind; How About You; The Elms; You’re My Thrill; Frame of Mind; If I Should Lose You; Yearnin’.

Personnel: Clay Jenkins: trumpet; Tom Peterson: tenor sax; Ira Nepus: trombone; Rich Eames: piano; Jeff D’Angelo: bass; Dick Weller: drums.

Record Label: Jazzed Media


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