Old Wine, Old Bottles.
I was cleaning out my to review list recently and came across a couple of older RED Records releases that I had not previously spun under the laser. Tenor Saxophonist Robert Stewart emerged first and I found this disc to me most enjoyable. Judgement
is one of the most thoroughly entertaining jazz offerings that is hiding its light under the proverbial basket.
Robert Stewart has made his name being a musical jack-of-all-trades. He has orchestrated and arranged film scores ( Howard’s End and Remains of the Day ), acted as engineer (Dennis Brown’s Live In Montego Bay Sonic Sound 39), produced ( Welcome To the Universe, Twisted 11753) and even performed with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra ( Jazz At The Lincoln Center: They Came To Swing, Sony 66379). He has released two discs on RED Records and Two on Warner Brothers. The All Music Guide cites Judgement as having been released on World Stage Records. It is the same recording as that released on RED, for whom I credit with the first release.
Equal Representation. Judgement has a little of everything, ballads, bossa nova, Hard Bop blues, minor blues, and one standard. The blues are the hard hitters with the “Cornbread”-like “Speak Through Your Horn” and the “Watermelon Man”-like “Soul Searchin’”. The ballads, “Serene” and “Revelations” are silky smooth and soft. “As Time Goes By” betrays Stewart’s warm, broad tone as being influenced by Long Tall Dexter, Ben Webster, Hank Mobley, and Sonny Rollins. No Coltrane here, No.
Stewart is joined by Eric Reed on piano, Billy Higgins on drums, and Mark Shelby on Bass. The support is solid and crisply recorded. Reed, who most lately has been recording with Wynton Marsalis’ Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and his Septet. Here he plays with a controlled funky abandon that he previously had little opportunity for. Higgins is his propulsive self. And Shelby, a rock bassist by trade, pulls a few jazz tricks out of his sleeves. This sold support along with Stewart’s solid tone make this disc readily accessible to all. A superb jazz recording.
Personnel: Robert Stewart: Tenor Saxophone; Billy Higgins: Drums; Eric Reed: Piano; Mark Shelby: Bass.