Marc Rosen & Sweet Thunder Jazztet: Monsoon (2006)
It's no secret, especially given the accompanying press kit and artist's comments, that this album provides a contemporary spin on the sounds and style of the late, great baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan. But Marc Rosen and other band members wrote original compositions for Monsoon, so this set is not a verbatim rehashing of the Mulligan songbook. The baritone saxophonist and his jazztet revitalize the ultra-cool, yet intricately devised harmonic attributes steeped within Mulligan's storied legacy. The saxophonist's sound and methodology hear leans more towards the Chet Baker/Mulligan '50s sessions, but with a modern hue.
Rosen's primary strengths are firmed up by his fluent baritone sax work and enhanced by an absolutely striking tone, where soft inflections and shadings loom as a vital component of his overall attack. Amid the bounce and chutzpah of his band, Rosen's prime objective is realized using good-natured swing and a somewhat ballsy approach. He trades vibrant fours with trumpeter and flugelhornist Paul Beuning, but a good deal of the magic surfaces when the soloists partake in peppery, bop-based unison runs.
Rosen's luscious tone radiates on the sanguine ballad "Dormindinha, whereas Dave Davidson's tinny organ sound projects a rather cheesy edge during the trad-jazz swing piece "Charlie's Corner. That one minor gripe aside, the saxophonist triumphantly bridges the old with the new by personalizing and transforming his love for Mulligan's aura into this clear-sighted and irrefutably charming production.
Track Listing: Marc VT; One-Eyed Jack; Mulligan Stew; Dormindhinha; Janet's Blues; Eurydice's Theme; Lightning Flash; Sweet Thunder; Janetude; Rolling Thunder; Charlie's Comin.
Personnel: Marc Rosen: tenor and baritone sax; Dave Davidson: piano, keyboards; Scott Baekland: bass; Fred Johnson: drums; Paul Beuning: flugelhorn, trumpet.
Record Label: Self Produced