"Lone Wolf" Finds Plenty to Chew On
Daly plays flute on one number, "Pannonica," and sings (briefly) on "A Merrier Christmas." Otherwise, it's baritone all the way, underscored by a compatible threesome (Steve Hudson, piano; Mary Ann McSweeney, bass; Peter Grant, drums) whose solid groundwork enables Daly to improvise naturally within a secure comfort zone. Hudson fashions a number of un-Monkish solos that are nonetheless bright and charming, while McSweeney and Grant unsheathe their eloquent voices on several tracks, most notably "Teo," " Ruby, My Dear," "52nd Street Theme" (McSweeney); "Two Timer," "Bright Mississippi," "A Merrier Christmas" (Grant). McSweeney's arco solo on "Light Blue" is a singular delight. Meanwhile, Daly strikes the mark consistently with perceptive ad-libs that surely would have made Monk smile with pleasure.
Every song on the album was written by Monk including the lesser-known "Teo" (a bow to bandleader / record producer Teo Macero), "Two Timer," "Light Blue," "Brake's Sake," "Let's Cool One," "Green Chimneys" and "Stuffy Turkey," the last a carefree riff "borrowed" by Monk from Sir Charles Thompson and Coleman Hawkins. As performed by Daly's quartet, they are as luminous and enchanting as Monk's more familiar works: "Pannonica," "Bright Mississippi," "Ruby, My Dear" and "52nd Street Theme." In fact, everything on the album is exemplary, not least Daly's remarkable command of the baritone sax, one reason she has regularly been entrenched among the leaders in DownBeat magazine's annual critics and readers polls. Baritone Monk is a thundering pleasure.
John Wasson's Coolbrass Jazztet
The New Cool
John Wasson's Coolbrass Jazztet, inspired, he says, by Miles Davis' classic "Birth of the Cool" sessions from 1949-50 and Wasson's time as a tuba player with the Dallas Brass, is a brass quintettwo trumpets, two trombones, tubawith a rhythm section comprised solely of drummer Jaelun Washington. If it seems at times as though the group may be larger, that's because Wasson's tuba "doubles" as bass, providing with Washington's drums a tight-knit rhythmic substructure for the horns. To avoid imitation, as if that were an issue, the Jazztet performs only one song from Davis' groundbreaking album, Gerry Mulligan's "Jeru." The rest of The New Cool is comprised of themes by Davis, Ralph Burns, Matthew Nicholl, Herbie Hancock, John Coltrane, Dave Brubeck, Oliver Nelson, Thad Jones, Chick Corea and even Leonard Bernstein / Stephen Sondheim (the dynamic "Mambo" from West Side Story).
To enhance the Jazztet's chances for success, Wasson has chosen its repertoire wisely. Burns' "Early Autumn," Hancock's "Dolphin Dance," Nelson's "Stolen Moments" and Corea's "Spain" are jazz standards, while Brubeck's "Blue Rondo a la Turk," Hancock's "Speak Like a Child," Davis' "Solar" and Jones' "Tip Toe" are only a rung below on that ladder. And even though lesser-known, Coltrane's "Mr. Syms" and Nicholls' "Blues Noir" are no less pleasing. Wasson's charts are exemplary, the Jazztet is well-rehearsed, and the musicianship is first-class, individually and collectively. In other words, the solosby trumpeters Chad Willis and Pete Clagett, trombonists Luke Brimhall and John Allenare consistently sharp and seductive. Washington solos nimbly when called upon, while Wasson makes only one brief statement, on "Stolen Moments."
For those who appreciate the deep harmonies and close interplay embodied by trumpets and trombones and aren't troubled by the absence of woodwinds, it doesn't get much better than this. Let's hope The New Cool is here to stay.
Roberto Magris Trio
One Night in with Hope and More . . . Vol. 1