Jazz Folk is an homage to jazz musicians (the folks) who put their heart and soul into playing creative music. This straight-ahead record sports four Don Aliquo originals, three pieces from bassist Rufus Reid, and two modern standards.
While there is nothing especially new here, and experienced listeners will find no surprises, the individual playing and the group aesthetic is excellent. The musicians obviously know and like each other, and the joy of their playing infuses this set. Rufus Reid, whose playing is extremely solid throughout, is probably the best-known member of the group. Trumpeter Clay Jenkins (an Eastman School teacher and a member of the Clayton-Hamilton Orchestra who performed on Trio East's recent Stop-Start) adds some pungent lines. Former Middle Tennessee State University colleague pianist Dana Landry and drummer Jim White round out the group.
Familiarity, which can most certainly breed contempt, can also allow one to just relax and enjoy music, without having to worry about missing any deep meanings. This is especially true when it is completely obvious that the players are being honest and really love this music.
Aliquo has a soft-edged tenor sound that seduces rather than shouts. He builds his solos, which are smooth as silk, attractively with an unfailing feel for breath and phrasing. Jenkins plays against this sound with a tack-sharp trumpet sound to go along with his slightly farther out harmonic moves.
The title tune, which is typical, starts the record. Beginning with a head played by sax and trumpet in unison, it shifts to a dead-on Blakey feel that can elicit goose bumps. Some say that the blues separates the men from the boys, and the members of this band demonstrate that they know where the deep pocket is. "This Is New," by Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin, is a killer blowing tune where the band shows how tight it really is, and how much fun it can be to just blow, while "Frayed" strays a bit farther away from harmonic predictability.
Jazz Folk has a goodly number of attractive originals, is full of high-quality playing, and has much going for it, though it does not break any new ground.
Track Listing: Jazz Folk; This Is New; Spiral Staircase; Forever on My Mind; Peaceful Flame; Time and Again; Never Never Land; Frayed; Come Out and Play.
Personnel: Don Aliquo: tenor saxophone; Clay Jenkins: trumpet; Dana Landry: piano; Rufus Reid: bass; Jim White: drums.