Trombonopia!: Bill Cantrall, David Gibson & Matt Haviland
Three trombone-playing leaders here afford themselves plush settings for some pretty good arranging and blowing.
Best of the three is Bill Cantrall's Axiom. Cantrall had Chicago big band experience and moved to NYC to play with Cubarama and the Gil Evans Orchestra. His balanced and tasteful (if a tad polite) charts challenge the players, smartly vary three-horn blends and gather warm energy from inspired solos by altoist Sherman Irby ("Like I Said") and trumpeter Ryan Kisor ("Torrent"). Cantrall adds historical value by choosing sublime if increasingly rare Tin Pan Alley coversCole Porter's sauntering "After You" and the neglected Mercer/Schertzinger gem "Tangerine," arranged optimally and played to the hilt.
David Gibson plays and writes for a conservative (tightly reined, smoothly sandpapered) sextet on G-Rays, his third date for Nagel Heyer. Charts have fairly bright internal dynamics and nuanced pacing (witness "Lo Time" and the Freddie Redd-like "To Wisdom The Prize"), but could've used more rehearsal (some unintentional smears on the swift, angular "Reflection"). Gibson himself plays 'bone with an unobjectionably buttery tone and genial technique; he's eclipsed by his sidecatstenor man Wayne Escoffery and tidy trumpeter Freddie Hendrix. Yet the trim LP-length date seems longer because the tunes themselves lack plausible hooks.
Matt Haviland fronts a decent if blustery quintet on Beyond Good and Evil, in which alto veteran Vincent Herring generates much of the passion, wailing his wonted worthy blend of Cannonball Adderley and Sonny Stitt. The rhythm section runs A-OK, too, with Benny Green, Ugonna Okegwo and Gene Jackson. Scott Wendholt makes it six on a modal "Moonrise" and affable "Broome St. Blues". Haviland's trombone style is earnest but awkward, large-boned and clumsy and his compositions are aggressively arpeggiated affairs, generating much heat but little light. Unfortunately, the standards for orientation here are Cedar Walton's "Bolivia," which drives hard but raggedly (Haviland perplexedly taking shelter in long tones) and the familiar Burke/Van Heusen ballad "But Beautiful," on which his solo is anything but. This album sat in the can for four years before release, but is still unready for prime time airplay.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: Axiom; Minor Transgression; Shanice; Torrent; After You; Like I Said; Halfway House; Maker's (One); Maker's (Two); Tangerine.
Personnel: Bill Cantrall: trombone; Ryan Kisor: trumpet; Sherman Irby: alto sax; Stacy Dillard: tenor sax; Rick Germanson: piano; Gerald Cannon: bass; Montez Coleman: drums.
Tracks: Judy; To Wisdom, The Prize; This Guy's In Love With You; Reflection; Lo Time; Roots; Sweet Love Of Mine; G-Rays.
Personnel: David Gibson: trombone; Freddie Hendrix: trumpet, flugelhorn; Wayne Escoffery: tenor saxophone; Rick Germanson: piano; Dwayne Burno: bass; Quincy Davis: drums.
Beyond Good and Evil
Tracks: One Never Knows, Do One?; And Away She Goes; But Beautiful; Beyond Good & Evil; Moonrise Prelude; Moonrise(featuring Scott Wenholdt); Bergen Street; Little Linnie; Bolivia; Broome St. Blues(featuring Scott Wenholdt).
Personnel: Matt Haviland: trombone; Vincent Herring: alto saxophone, tenor saxophone; Benny Green: piano; Ugonna Okegwo: upright bass; Gene Jackson: drums.