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Sala Brothers: Out of the Blue (2004)

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Sala Brothers: Out of the Blue No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Trumpeter Joe Sala and his brother, drummer Tom, are Los Angeles-based musicians who have played behind musicians as diverse as Al Jarreau, B.B. King, Gary Burton, and Della Reese. With the release of their first CD, Out of the Blue, they step beyond the confines of the well-paid sideman. A collection of originals written and arranged by Joe, the session features strong solos, due in great part to the good taste the brothers have shown in selecting their own sidemen.

Pianist Alan Pasqua, bassist Dave Carpenter, and Bob Sheppard on tenor saxophone raise the level of this recording beyond what it could have been—a series of technically proficient instrumental bop originals as a vehicle for technically proficient instrumental bop solos. Credit goes to the Salas, who also produced the session, for generously allotting the bulk of the solos to Pasqua and Sheppard.

"Until Forever," the opening cut, starts with a piano/bass intro before launching into a straight-ahead theme played by unison horns. Pasqua shines in his solo, pushing the boundaries of the harmony in his signature style. "Back In the Day" is a twelve-bar blues, once again featuring the horns playing the head. Sheppard's cool, rangy solo is followed by Joe's trumpet, one of the few solos he gives himself. The longest piece, "Eternal Flight," a moody bossa, is the only ballad on this high-voltage set. Joe squeezes his trumpet around a solo that is mellow and warm, evoking middle-period Miles in the pensive, almost rueful way he forms his melodic lines.

The Sala brothers went to Berklee before moving out west, and they have a musical simpatico that only years of playing, and living, together can produce. Pasqua, Carpenter, and Sheppard are longtime friends who have played together on numerous occasions, evident not only in the seamless quality of their ensemble work, but also the creative vision that drives their respective solos.

~ Anne Farnsworth

Track Listing: Until Forever/ Back In the Day/ Soul Steps/ Essence/ Out of the Blue/ Eternal Flight/ Colors and Shades.

Personnel: Joe Sala- trumpet; Tom Sala- drums; Bob Sheppard- tenor sax; Alan Pasqua- piano; Dave Carpenter- bass

Record Label: Blujazz Productions


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