Honors Series: Jimmy Cobb and Michael Carvin
Jimmy Cobb is one of the jazz world's true treasures, a man whose wealth of experience made his selection for the Marsalis Music Honors Series, in the words of label founder Branford Marsalis, a "no-brainer." Be that as it may, the producer's idea to include his father Ellis Marsalis on piano was nothing short of genius. The elder Marsalis' fondness for Cobb's early partner Wynton Kelly is clearly evidenced in his playing (as much as it was in his decision to name his second son after the late pianist) and the pairing is simply magical. Joining the two are Australian alto saxophonist Andrew Speight (a Cannonball Adderley devotee) and British bassist Orlando Le Fleming, satisfying the series' ancillary goal to "provide both exposure and experience for young talents." The music swings with a capital S, starting off with Henry Mancini's "Mr. Lucky." Cobb's compositions "W.K." (a dedication to Kelly co-written with Dave Matthews), "Eleanor (Sister Cobb)" and "Composition 101" prove the drummer to be a fine writer. John Williams' waltz "Can You Read My Mind" and Tex Allen's bossa nova "There Is Something About You" vary the program nicely, while the arrangement of Rodgers and Hart's "Johnny One Note" reinforces the date's classic atmosphere. Richard Tee's beautiful "Real Time" features Speight on soprano, while the Ellis Marsalis original "Tell Me" has the saxophonist on alto negotiating the harmonically inventive line in unison with the composer's piano. The closing "Tune 341," another Cobb-Matthews collaboration, features the quartet in a classic groove reminiscent of the drummer's Miles Davis days, with superb solos by Le Flemming and the leader.
Michael Carvin's date features the master drummer with his regular pianist Carlton Holmes, debuting bassist Dezron Douglas and saxophonist Marcus Strickland (whose experience with Roy Haynes and Jeff "Tain" Watts made him a wise choice for this drummer-led date). Carvin's selection of music includes some interesting arrangements of standards ("I'll Remember April" incorporates the bass line from Cedar Walton's "Bolivia," "The Lamp Is Low" is played as a swinging shuffle and "Prisoner of Love" and "Body and Soul" are combined in a moving ballad medley), the bebop classics "In Walked Bud" and "Night In Tunisia," Charles Lloyd's exquisite yet neglected gem "Forest Flower" and straightforward readings of "You Go To My Head" and "Hello Young Lovers." The virtuoso Carvin is both explosively exciting and supremely tasteful, molding the studio assemblage into a cohesive unit with the sound of a working band.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: Mr. Lucky; W.K.; Eleanor (Sister Cobb); Composition 101; Can You Read My Mind; There Is Something About You (I Don't Know); Johnny One Note; Real Time; Tell Me; Tune 341.
Personnel: Jimmy Cobb: Drums; Ellis Marsalis: Piano; Andrew Speight: Saxophone; Orlando Le Fleming: Bass.
Tracks: I'll Remember April; The Lamp is Low; Prisoner of Love / Body And Soul; In Walked Bud; Forest Flower; A Night in Tunisia; You Go To My Head; Hello, Young Lovers.
Personnel: Michael Carvin: Drummer; Dezron Douglas: Bass; Carlton Holmes: Piano; Marcus Strickland: Saxophone; Branford Marsalis: Saxophone (track 3).