Pointing Fingers... And Naming Names
The brothers are stellar from the outset, bright and eloquent on Peter's "Correspondence" and "You Have to Try It Once" and Will's "Bread and Butter" and "Go Ahead!" (a.k.a. "Cherokee"). Powell is represented by the ballad "I'll Keep Loving You," Gillespie by "Shaw Nuff," Jones by "Slipped Again." Completing the program are Peter's "Meat of the Matter" and Will's "Contagious Curiosity." Not one of them is less than admirable. The Anderson twins have made a smashing debut, one that lends new credence to the adage that "two heads are better than one." In this case, those two heads happen to be identical, in temperament as well as appearance. The jazz world is better for that, and should be even more enriched by their growing artistry in the years to come.
Less Is More
As a part of his musical philosophy, drummer Rich Thompson espouses the premise that "less is more," which could be true, more or less. Clearly, there are less musicians on Thompson's new album than there are on a big band, or even a sextet; on the other hand, there are more than in a duo, trio or quartet. The five who are present and accounted for seem about right, as Thompson presides over a groovy session that is enhanced by the explicit artistry of trumpeter Terell Stafford. As there are no liner notes, it is anyone's guess as to what Thompson actually means by the phrase "less is more" (also the album's title selection, a quasi-waltz on which Stafford is typically persuasive).
This is actually more quartet than quintet, as one of its members, tenor saxophonist Doug Stone, is heard only on Rodgers and Hart's ballad "I Didn't Know What Time It Was" (taken at a livelier-than-usual tempo) and Joe Henderson's easygoing "Step Lightly," perhaps providing more insight into the phrase "less is more." Speaking of ballads, Stafford is at his best in that context, soloing eloquently on another Rodgers and Hart evergreen, "It's Easy to Remember," Frank Loesser's "I've Never Been in Love Before" and (muted) Tom Garling's graceful "Camping Out." That's not to say he's any less impressive at brisker tempos, such as Kenny Dorham's "Lotus Blossom," on which Stafford eagerly takes the ball and runs with it. Stafford's burnished flugel graces Thompson's "Less Is More," which precedes Ornette Coleman's lyrical (yes, lyrical) "Invisible" and Wayne Shorter's "This One's for Albert," one of three tracks on which pianist Gary Versace moves to the Hammond B3 organ (the others are "Step Lightly" and bassist Jeff Campbell's quirky "Hoot Gibson"). Campbell, Versace (who solos handsomely on piano and organ) and Thompson comprise a solid rhythm section, one that Stafford and Stone know they can lean on for unflagging support.
This is by no means a groundbreaking session but one that offers nearly an hour of tasteful straight-ahead jazz capably performed by four (and sometimes five) world-class musicians. Perhaps less is more after all.
Tracks and Personnel
The Hofstra Project
Tracks: Full House; Where Are You; No Evidence; Duke Ellington's Sound of Love; Inner Urge; Pent-Up House; Moody's Mood for Love; St. Thelonious; Tricotism; The Song Isn't You; The Peacocks; Blues For . . .; Evansville.