Pointing Fingers... And Naming Names
On to the music, starting with Dave's Thad Jones / Mel Lewis-style flag-waver, "Full House," which showcases, in order, saxophonists Lange, Holford, Marshall and Ralph Lalama at their blazing best. Jimmy McHugh's ballad "Where Are You" is recast into a bright samba whose soloists are Mosca, Carubia (flugel), Pietro (soprano) and Dave Lalama. Sandwiched between Dave's second composition, "No Evidence" (a fusion of the standard "There Is No Greater Love" and Thelonious Monk's "Evidence") and his third, the sunny calypso "St. Thelonious," are time-honored classics by Charles Mingus ("Duke Ellington's Sound of Love"), Joe Henderson ("Inner Urge"), Sonny Rollins ("Pent-Up House") and James Moody ("Moody's Mood for Love," on which brass and winds swap graceful solis). Oscar Pettiford's buoyant "Tricotism," a vehicle for bassist Coco (and the trombone section), is dedicated to the memory of Coco's teacher at Hofstra, the late Robert Bowen III, while the mercurial "The Song Isn't You" was written by Dave Lalama for the Buddy Rich Band as a showpiece for brother Ralph and trumpeter Drewes who step forward to reprise their original starring roles.
Lange's lyrical baritone is front and center on Jimmy Rowles' ballad "The Peacocks," Chiarello's supple trombone and Pietro's burnished alto on Lalama's groovy "Blues For . . ." The session ends on a salutary note with Lalama's picturesque "Evansville," a ""bonus track" earmarked as an "expression of gratitude" to Bill Evans on which Dave's shimmering piano is the focal point. It's a splendid way to wrap up a superlative album, one that pleases from start to finish, thanks to Dave Lalama, the Hofstra faculty and alumni, and their invited guests (not least brother Ralph).
Joe Clark Big Band
Add Joe Clark's name to a growing line-up of bandleaders who are enlivening the music scene in Chicago that already includes Rob Parton, Orbert Davis, Tom Matta, Bill O'Connell, Ted Hogarth, Bob Lark and Dick Reynolds (whose new album is reviewed below). DePaul University alumnus Clark's debut recording is further enhanced by the presence of guest artist Jeff Hamilton at the drum set, a clear-cut advantage for any band.
Clark, who also plays trumpet (and solos persuasively on the ballad "Tenderly"), wrote three of the album's eight numbers and arranged all of them including Hamilton's sunny "Samba de Martelo," on which the guest star shines most brightly. Needless to say, the band is well-rehearsed and ready for any challenge, starting with Thelonious Monk's "Well You Needn't," which lopes along to a New Orleans-style beat behind crisp solos by Hamilton, baritone saxophonist Mark Hiebert and trumpeter Victor Garcia. "Samba de Martelo" is preceded by Clark's portentous "Red Sky" and Billy Strayhorn's plaintive "Lush Life," the last a showcase for tenor Chris Madsen with support from pianist Ryan Cohan. Guitarist Mike Pinto adds his solo voice to that of Hamilton's on "Samba."
Clark's "Free-Wheeling" is a strapping swinger with solos to match by Garcia, muted trombonist Bryant Scott and tenor Frank Anthony Bruno, "Femme Fatale" an easygoing charmer with eloquent statements by Cohan and alto Dan Nicholson. The seductive studio session ends with "Yesterday's Gardenias," a seldom-heard melody (reminiscent of "It's You or No One") that should be heard more often, whose well-knit solos are delivered courtesy of Nicholson, trumpeter BJ Cord and trombonist Tom Garling. In an area of the country that is suddenly awash in blue-chip big bands, Joe Clark has interposed an emphatic new voice that should be heard.
Music & Friends