This jubilant, colorful jazz bodes well for the success of the great bassist's own label. What distinguishes this set is what made his quintet in recent years such a joy: well-structured compositions into which the musicians breath life through crisp exchanges and tradeoffs that signify their enthusiasm as much as their technical prowess.
One Foot in the Swamp
This newest solo effort by long-time collaborator of Charlie Hunter is all about texture. And not just instrumental texturethough between the leader and his comrades in arms including John Scofield and Nicholas Payton, there's plenty of that. There's also the textures of musicianship and style which progress so quickly through their respective intervals, it leave you wanting to play this more and more to be able to absorb the changes.
The addition of guitar to the lineup of Jason Moran's Bandwagon only expands the unit's range of dynamics. Including textures both electric and acoustic afford the leader in particular an opportunity to vary his touch without ever compromising the vigor of his own playing or that of his band.
The native Dominican's piano playing in this solo setting is too vigorous to be described as merely melodic: you can feel the impact of his hands on the ivories as he confidently works his way into the music and authoritatively sends it back out redefined according to his personal style.
We Want You to Say
The color and gaiety of this music, rooted in its popping rhytms and the melodious strains of Andy Narells' steel pans, make the vocals chants superfluous. Better to ignore the tracks with singing and let the sound of the band take you away because while this music may not be all that inventive, it is supremely infectious.
Out of Nowhere
The cache bestowed upon this debut album by the presence of Michael Brecker and Don Byron nevertheless gets in the way of enjoying the true source of its attraction: an exotic blend of jazz and folk music by two musicians inspired and excited by the fusion they're enacting.
Surety of rhythm is a hallmark of David Sanborn's best work, whether as a sideman or a solo performer and Closer stands as an object lesson of that precept. With arrangements more fulsome than its leaner predecessor, the saxophonist's infectious simplicity of approach influences stellar sidemen such as vibraphonist Mike Mainieri to follow suit, the result being an unassuming delight of an album.
Joey DeFranceso w/ Jimmy Smith:
Considering the headliners are masters of the Hammond B-3, it's a source of surprise and delight that so much instrumental diversity exists on Legacy. Not to mention a wealth of mutual empathy among the players, all of which is captured on an immaculate recording.
Live at the Iridium
Alexander's live CD reminds us the piano is classified as a percussion instrument. The familiarity of much of the material, such as "The Work Song," allows the listener to home in on the playing, which is a neverending source of surprise as Monty interweaves melody and rhythm so that one is virtually indecipherable from the other.