Eijiro Nakagawa & Jim Pugh: E 'n J -- Legend and Lion (2006)
Is New York the Mecca of jazz? Well, some would believe so. It was the meeting place for two trombonists, Jim Pugh and Eijiro Nakagawa, the latter a young player from Japan, the former a well-known American veteran. The two trombonists found common ground and recorded this album with a band that fits them like a glove. The music paves happy trails for the listener.
Pugh and Nakagawa combine well. In tandem, their lines flow smooth and easy. When soloing, each takes a different tack. Pugh is smooth and glides with a certain grace; Nakagawa is more pronounced and earthy, with a coiled but nevertheless tensile approach, making him a talent to watch.
The trombones get off with a fleeting nod to "Blue Rondo A La Turk" before settling into the Latin groove of "Leave it to Beaver." The beat is radiant and sunny, injected by Pugh and Nakagawa with just a hint of tension, keeping it interestingly taut before Andy Ezrin expands the parameters with a romping turn on the piano. Both trombonists taking the fine swinging tune "Slidework in A Flat" to the hilt, keeping the pulse exciting and pushing the edge without overwhelming it.
They can also play a slow tune with emotional impact, like "Someday My Prince Will Come." Pugh and Nakagawa set warm ensemble lines, then move into a domain of their own, treading a gentle path into the nuances to filter the depth of the song. Their lines criss-cross, bringing in a hymnal quality; a gentle passion ripples through to invest a distinct voicing.
Track Listing: Blue Rondo A La Turk; Leave it to Beaver; Scramble; Slidework in A Flat; Chelsea Bridge; Amblin'; Jimmy Jam; Jank; Someday My Prince Will Come; There is no Greater Love; Snuffle; Bolivia.
Personnel: Eijiro Nakagawa: trombone; Jim Pugh: trombone; Andy Ezrin: piano; John Patitucci: bass; John Riley: drums.
Record Label: Superkids