Roy Campbell is one of the top trumpet players around today. Khan Jamal is currently my favourite vibes playerand I say this as a vibraphonist. Until I heard Jamalwhose playing goes back to the Douglas Loft Sessionsmy favourite vibraphonist was Walt Dickerson. Jamal can play out but he can really cook as well. Wilber Morris is one hell of a bassist. Guillermo E. Brown Brown is unknown to me, but as drums are my main instrument I also look forward to hearing new drummers.
Thirsty Ear is a label that has been putting out some very interesting music. So I was really looking forward to this record. But, alas, my expectations were not met.
This record is a very strange mix of styles, with almost every track done differently. Tenderness of Spring is a beautiful impressionistic piece featuring some excellent bowing by Morris and gets the record off to a great start with Campbell coming in creating some beautiful interplay. The title tune is sounds like an updated out version of an old Miles Davis type blues. The interplay between Jamal and Campbell is great. Morris keeps things going nicely but I am not sure about Brown.
If the first two tracks are highlights, then Bemsha Swing is a real low point. Brown seems to be playing a kind of pop funk eighth note beat while Jamal and campbell solo over it. If it weren't for Morris, this track would have totally fallen apart. And Brown's drums sound terrible, like they muffled. there is no resonance. Monk's tunes are hard to play. Not only did Monk surprise with his harmonies but his rhythm is important. Those jagged edges are part of what Monk was about. Monk would not be pleased with this.
The next four tracks provide some excellent playing. All four players here work well together. But I really have trouble listening to Brown. maybe with a different drummer this record would have been a whole lot better.
But the final track, a rendition of the Star Spangled Bannera solo by Campbell is incredible. You hear growls and vocalizings and real emotion. Think of an Afro-American shaking his fist at White America.
Some very interesting moments on this record, but overall too much of a mixed bag to recommend.
Track Listing: Tenderness of Spring, It's Krunch Time, Bemsha Swing, New Groes for the New Millennium, Ode for Mr. DC, Khanducting, The Opening, Star Spangled Banner.
Personnel: Roy Campbell Trumpet
Khan Jamal Vibes
Wilber Morris Bass
Guillermo E. Brown Drums