How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Light standards with a big band sentiment bring Rick Culver's acoustic mainstream session into focus. Together, the trio creates lovely moods that blend in harmony. When soloing, each artist steps out without straying too far from the familiar melodies. Arranged by the leader, each piece benefits from scripted trio passages that bring the listener to a mild-mannered double take. The unexpected sidles in without becoming noticeable. These gentle nuances nudge Culver's music along its way merrily. His two originals rumble with a modicum of fire and passion. The trombonist has a gorgeous tone, which becomes the focus of his session. His aim is to present familiar tunes in familiar surroundings – but with subtle twists. "Tea for Two," for example, captures the funny way Blossom Dearie interprets that number. Dedications to Bob Florence and Bill Holman connote the care Culver has taken to ensure that each piece says what he intends. Classic cakewalks such as "Surrey With the Fringe on Top" and "Body & Soul" remain unadulterated, while "I Thought About You" and "Teach Me Tonight," for example, employ a hearty helping of trombone improvisation. Pianist and bassist support well and add interesting solos. Avoiding gimmicks and shying away from any kind of synthesized effects, Rick Culver paints a natural picture of acoustic jazz for all audiences.
Track Listing: Autumn Leaves; Pennies from Heaven; Not a Samba Mood; Body & Soul; Tea for Two; Surrey With the Fringe on Top; Painted Scarves; I Thought About You; Teach Me Tonight; Where or When; What
Personnel: Rick Culver- trombone; Jeff Kessler- piano; Dan Kolton- bass.