Richard Underhill: Tales From The Blue Lounge (2002)
Tales From The Blue Lounge is Canadian alto saxophonist Richard Underhill's debut solo album and the winner of the 2003 Juno Award for Jazz Album of the Year. After a long and winding career that has included membership in the eclectic Shuffle Demons and the electronica-based Astrogroove, this disc of ten original compositions finds Underhill exploring classic sounds that wouldn't sound out of place on a mid-1960s Blue Note Release.
Surfing kicks off the album with the fleet confidence of a fighter entering the ring, bouncing about, eager with anticipation for the bell to sound. Underhill, tenor saxophonist Bob Brough, and bassist George Koller each take strong, assured solos, seemingly feeding off the shared confidence. Notice must also be given to the fine production that captures the drive and presence of the band, not just on this track, but throughout the album.
Elsewhere, Underhill employs ensembles of varying sizes, adding a welcome sense of range to the proceedings. The title track sways with a Latin groove, aided by added percussion from Luis Orbegosa and Jose "Papo Gonzales. "Big struts soulfully with driving guitar from Jake Langley and shimmering organ from Dave Restivo. "The Old Guys features a clever arrangement from Underhill that skillfully references some sunny big band motions, with a dash of Mingus' gospel fire.
Tales From The Blue Lounge is a real treatan album inspired by past musical forms that never sounds tired or dated. Old-fashioned styles are summoned with real joy and a knowing wink. This is accomplished and assured music that has the added benefit of being a lot of fun.
Track Listing: Surfing; Mr. Fezziwig; Big; Blues For Suze; The Blue Lounge; The Old Guys; Dreamy Afternoon; Guru Ship; Pegasus; Chillin'
Personnel: Richard Underhill-alto and baritone saxophone; Bob Brough-tenor saxophone; Dave Restivo-piano and organ; George Koller-bass; Ted Warren-drums; Jake Langley-guitar; Artie Roth-bass; Barry Elmes-drums; Chris Gale-baritone saxophone; Reg Schwager-guitar; William Carn-trombone; Alexis Baro-trumpet; William Sperandel-trumpet; Luis Orbegoso-percussion; Jose Papo Gonzales-percussion