The music on Jazz Folk has nothing whatsoever to do with folk music. Instead, Don Aliquo reports that he aimed to "capture the soul and spirit of folk music." Perhaps the title refers to "jazz people," which would make more sense.
Don Aliquo is a well-respected saxophonist and educator in Nashville and a Director of Studies as well as Associate Professor of saxophone at Middle Tennessee State University. This is his fourth album, and he accurately describes his music as "out and out mainstream East Coast." In other words, the tenor player is inspired by the golden years of the Blue Note label. His ensemble consists of West Coast trumpeter Clay Jenkins, pianist Dana Landry, the estimable bassist Rufus Reid, and drummer Jim White. With the exception of Kurt Weill's "This is New" and Jule Styne's "Never Never Land," the other seven tunes are original, including three from Reid.
The two-horn front line is very reminiscent of the many hard bop recordings from the late-'50s and early-'60s New York jazz scene. Aliquo's best music comes on "This Is New," where he evokes the style of the late-'50s Prestige-period Coltrane. Aliquo blows a cooking solo while Landry provides some Tyner-ish jabs on piano, before Jenkins comes in. "Peaceful Flame" and "Spiral Staircase" sound like modal Herbie Hancock compositions from the early '60s; Jenkins employs a mute trumpet alongside Aliquo's sax.
On "Spiral Staircase," Rufus Reid's bass solo leads to an effective statement by Aliquo, followed by Jenkins and Landry. "Never Never Land," a jazz standard since Bill Evans recorded it, provides an opportunity for Aliquo to display his ballad skills, and he does sound very comfortable here. Jenkins also sounds cogent in his playing and solos.
However, a constant "been-here-before" vibe accompanies much of the album. Several of the tunes are average vehicles for the quintet, but no more than that.
Personnel: Don Aliquo: tenor sax; Clay Jenkins: trumpet; Dana Landry: piano; Rufus Reid: bass; Jim