is the perfect CD for those who like their jazz straight up and swinging, as well as both traditional and imaginative at the same time. These adjectives also describe uberdrummer Joe Ascione, the versatile, first-call sideman who's been on hundreds of other people's CDs. Recorded in October of 2007, this is only his third album as leader, and it's a corker from beginning to end.
To be more specific: Movin' Up begins with the infectious title shuffle, written by Ascione, that first reveals the copious talents of the band, including John Concuzzi's fine doubling on piano and vibes (on his vocal, "It Was a Very Good Year," he sounds much like Freddie Cole). The end is a delightful second-line take on "Aba Daba Honeymoon." In between, the CD is a mood-elevating journey through a lush landscape of romantic standards.
Peak moments abound: Ascione's joyous arrangement of "So In Love" (his own wedding song) with his deep drum echoes of a samba parade; the mix of clarinetist Alan Vache's full-out, skyward wailing, bassist Frank Tate's powerful walking, Ascione's dazzling brushwork on "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah's Got Rhythm," and the bright, Latin/Caribbean flavor of "True Love." The quartet's seven-minute version of "Get Out of Town" swings like mad, as does their version of "Love Walked In"; "The Touch of Your Lips" is a bit cooler, but no less propulsive. Ascione also freshens up "Summertime," Gershwin's most overdone tune, by merging a driving Afro-Cuban beat with an intricate drum solo.
The experience is enhanced by Ascione's articulate liners, which explain his inspirations and intent, and highlight how much the band enjoyed making this musictheir pleasure is so audible that it adds a great deal to the listeners' as well. Movin' Up is a stylish, classy album that reflects a new high in a long and successful career. As Ascione says, "The party continues!" And so it does. Chips and dips? Right over there...
Personnel: Joe Ascione: drums, Djembe drum, shakers; Allan Vache: clarinet; John Cocuzzi: piano, vibes, vocal; Frank Tate: bass.