Ronnie Burrage: In It (2005)
The multitalented Ronnie Burrage has shown himself to be one of the most exciting drummers in jazz as a sideman with McCoy Tyner, Sonny Rollins, Jerry Gonzalez's Fort Apache Band, and Sonny Fortune. As a leader he's also demonstrated his abilities as a composer, arranger, percussionist, and keyboard player. On In It he adds scat singing to his already impressive list of credentials.
Burrage has a crisp rhythmic attack and a pleasant voice with a timbre reminiscent of a young Jon Hendricks, obviously his primary vocal influence. On the opening "I Mean You, he comes out swinging hard accompanied by the fine Philadelphia piano/bass team of Sid Simmons and Mike Boone. On the more contemporary material, Wayne Shorter's "Beauty and the Beast and "Pinnochio, Joe Henderson's "Black Narcissus, and the originals "In The Realm Of Thought and the title track, the leader takes a dreamier approach, enhanced by the use of electric piano.
Young Philadelphian Jason Shattill mans the keyboards on "In the Realm and "Black Narcissus and the excellent trumpeter John Swana augments the trio, nicely complementing the leader's wordless vocalizing. Burrage's interpretations of classic materialColtrane's "Lonnie's Lament, Ellington's "Prelude To A Kiss, and Monk's "'Round Midnight adopt a more conventional approach, revealing the drummer's thorough familiarity with the pieces' melodic content, so much so that it would seem that he could have just as easily sung the songs' lyrics. The instrumental trio is heard to especially good effect on these jazz standards, allowing listeners to really appreciate Simmons, who is unfortunately seldom heard outside of his Philadelphia base.
The date ends as it started, with a relentlessly swinging, scatting Monk bopper: "Straight No Chaser. Burrage's drumming throughout the date is most exhilarating.
Personnel: Ronnie Burrage: drums; Sid Simmons: piano; Mike Boone: bass; Jason Shattill: piano; John Swana: trumpet.