Wycliffe Gordon Quintet: United Soul Experience (2002)
Stewart’s ability to go in two directions at once without losing focus distinguishes “Get It! Get It!” from conventional hard bop. The rhythm section drops out for a portion of Gordon’s gutsy, authoritative solo, and he carries on in a manner that suggests they’re still with him. An active, funky line with a bustling undertow, Blake’s “In Flight” includes a turn by the composer that expands until he climaxes with upper-register cries reminiscent of a whistling teakettle. “Everyday,” Gordon’s plaintive ballad features the trombonist and Blake playing portions of the melody separately and in unison. During a beautifully realized performance, the piece accommodates four soloists with different points of view, yet doesn’t feel strained or overdone.
Leaning on Grenadier’s purposeful bass line, Stewart constructs a decidedly non-linear solo on “Corey’s Competition.” Maintaining absolute control over all four limbs while working the set from top to bottom, he jams disparate ideas into 20 bars or so. Nonetheless Stewart manages to shape everything into a coherent whole. Arranged for just the bass and muted trombone, Ellington’s “Low Key Lightly” makes a nice, easygoing ending to an excellent recording. The duo ambles along minus any hint of virtuosic intent. Grenadier buttresses Gordon’s vocal-like playing and contributes an elegant, unaccompanied solo.
Track Listing: 1. Get It! Get It!; 2. Karen's Contemplation; 3. In Flight; 4. Everyday; 5. Corey's Competition; 6. Periwinkle; 7. On The Spot; 8. Low Key Lightly
Personnel: Wycliffe Gordon--trombone; Seamus Blake--tenor sax; David Kikoski--piano; Larry Grenadier--bass; Bill Stewart--drums
Record Label: Criss Cross