Steeplechase seems to have stepped up the pace on its anthology of concert recordings chosen from trumpeter Brad Goode’s exhaustive tape cache. This fourth volume comes just months after the release of the third. Listeners outside the Chicago loop are perhaps less likely to have heard of Goode, but his co-pilot in the front line should spur familiarity in the mind’s of most jazz fans. Vonski’s been at the game for well over a half century, though you wouldn’t know it given his criminally sparse discography. Fortunately the Danish label’s been doing its part to rectify the slight for years and this series continues in the cause of restitution.
Just as on volume three, the performances date from a two-month stint the sextet completed in early '93. Standards again dominate the program, but this time a few bop showpieces are interspersed with the fare of earlier vintages. Vonski and Goode tackle the tunes with uniform confidence, regardless of their respective eras of origin. “You Stepped Out of a Dream” gets off to a slightly rickety start as Freeman sounds hesitant negotiating the unison head. But his ensuing solo, which unwinds in a customary surge of tart and tangy phrasings, quickly allays any fears. Goode’s gossamer smooth tone contrasts beautifully, skating atop Ron Perrillo’s strong comping and the steady palpitation of Stewart Miller’s bass line. Paul McKee’s similarly sedate trombone touches down next, gliding smoothly through several choruses. Perillo follows in dutiful fashion, backed by the elastic beat of Miller and Bob Rummage.
The band breathes a fresh, airy vitality into Kurt Weil’s sublime ballad “Speak Low” and the co- leaders make particularly strong showings on their respective solo fronts. Goode takes first honors, his soft tone juxtaposing sweetly with Perillo’s more staccato comping. The pianist plays less stridently behind Vonski; his lean fills achieving a comparable effectiveness, while Miller and Rummage once again keep the rhythmic wheels greased.
Freeman steals the stage during a string of loquacious opening choruses on the rollicking rundown of “Bye Bye Blackbird,” but the remainder of the program charts a fairly placid course with few surprises. Even so, there’s still plenty of solidly satisfying playing from everyone involved. An eleventh hour standout surfaces in the form of Rollins’ hard bop evergreen “Oleo." The tune’s sprinting changes succeed in igniting a figurative fire of excitement atop the bandstand.
Because this disc sticks so closely to the formula of previous volumes the question naturally arises as to its necessity. For some folks, Vonski and friends blowing soulfully and ebulliently in front of a hometown crowd is recommendation enough. Less loyal fans that already have two or more of the previous volumes may benefit from some caution. Here’s hoping that Goode’s tape archive contains enough variety to feature these men in new settings on future volumes.
Steeplechase on the web: http://www.steeplechase.dk
Personnel: Brad Goode- trumpet; Von Freeman- tenor saxophone; Paul McKee- trombone; Ron Perrillo- piano;
Stewart Miller- bass; Bob Rummage- drums. Recorded: January/February 1993, Chicago.