The trombone suffers from underemployment in the small combo jazz world. Lamentably. Tenor saxophone giant Sonny Rollins knows how nicely the 'bone's smooth flow melds with the grittier texture of the sax. And so does Gypsy Schaeffer.
The band—named after an historic New Orleans jazz venue—is a pianoless quartet, featuring trombonist Joel Yennior, best known for his tenure, since '98, in Boston's Either/Orchestra; alto saxophonist Andy Voelker; bassist Edward Perez; and drummer Chris Punis; four guys who came to Boston for their educations—Berklee, New England Conservatory and Harvard—and stayed on for the vibrant music scene. And in spite of the moniker, the band doesn't sound at all New Orlean-ish.
Gypsy Schaeffer blends a less constrained free jazz attitude with the rock solid and often propulsive bass work of Edward Perez, who gives a clinic on walking bass on tunes like "Joisey Boy's Shuffle" and "De-Training," teaming with drummer Chris Punis to create a stalking rhythm that backdrops perfectly the always creative soloing and interplay of Yennior and Voelker. Altoist Voelker hangs down in the low register a good deal, bringing Cannonball Adderly to mind at times, with a robust tone that occasionally veers toward the beautifully harsh end, with an Avram Fefer feel.
The band has paced the CD nicely. Too many of the free end pianoless quartet sets seem a little uncentered, because these players wander around mid-tempo song after song; or they soar to long in high end frenetic "out there" mode. But Gypsy Schaeffer opens the disc up with a hard driver, "What's the Deal?", then moves into a dreamily introspective "Hornet's Nest" before grooving into "Joisey Boy's Shuffle," which sounds as though it could serve as a soundtrack for a movie about a modernistic secret agent man; and there's even a fluid Latin groove on "I Want to Go to Havana."
Track Listing: What's the Deal?, Hornet's Nest, Joisey Boy's Shuffle, I Want to Go to Havana,Turning Point, The Red Sun, De-Training, Difference of Opinion, Who's for Edward?, Lovesick Thoughts, Walk the Walk, Flying Herman
Personnel: Andy Voelker--alto saxophone; Joel Yennior--trombone; Edward Perez--bass; Chris Punis--drums