Ralph Lalama: The Audience (2010)
Lalama is a powerhouse soloist who has forged his own sound by fusing the styles of various tenor sax forebears, Sonny Rollins being the most apparent. He and his fine quartet (John Hart on electric guitar, Rick Petrone on bass and Joe Corsello on drums) explore a nicely varied set including modern jazz standards like Wayne Shorter's mid-tempo gem "Marie Antoinette" and Duke Pearson's complex blues "Minor League." They even revisit "I'm an Old Cowhand," a tune Rollins helped introduce to the jazz world on his landmark 1957 Riverside album , and dig up "Love Thy Neighbor," a Bing Crosby hit from the 1930s, later recorded by John Coltrane. Lalama showcases his exquisite ballad chops on "Portrait of Jennie," another tune covered by Rollins, and lays down some bluesy, hard-edged funk with Hart on Stevie Wonder's "Livin' for the City." In addition, three brief, duo improvisations spotlight his talented band members.
Throughout, Lalama proves himself a master improviser with a rich, supple tone and an abundance of musical ideas. It's an impressive outing by an underrated jazz veteran with plenty to say.
Track Listing: Marie Antoinette; Livin' For The City; Love Thy Neighbor; Jonme; Portrait of Jennie; Minor League; Jome; Kiss & Run; Ricme; I'm an Old Cowhand.
Personnel: Ralph Lalama: tenor sax; John Hart: guitar; Rick Petrone: bass; Joe Corsello: drums.
Record Label: Mighty Quinn Productions