Lonnie Plaxico: Melange
Lonnie Plaxico’s Blue Note debut is similar in thrust to last year’s Emergence (Savant). The emphasis is on funk, yet the frequent complexity of Plaxico’s writing harks back to his M-Base roots, especially on tunes like "Short Takes," "T.O.P.," "Patois," and the title track. Apparently the disc grew out of two different sessions — the first with Tim Ries on sax and Lew Soloff on trumpet, the second with regular band members Marcus Strickland and Jeremy Pelt in their stead. George Colligan handles the main piano and keyboard duties, with Helen Sung contributing a couple of stunning solos along the way. Lionel Cordew and Jeffrey Haynes play drums and percussion, respectively, as they did on the previous record.
As was the case with Emergence, Plaxico begins to repeat himself as the record wears on. And the opening cover of "Squib Cakes," by Tower of Power, seems insubstantial next to the original material. That said, the improvisation is often hair-raising, and the ballads, "Darkness" and "Beloved," are effective changes of pace. On the flip side, the speed-funk finale, "Windy City," is a blast.
Track Listing: 1. Squib Cakes 2. Melange 3. Darkness 4. Short Takes 5. Miles II 6. Paella 7. Sunday Morning 8. Beloved 9. T.O.P. 10. Patois 11. Windy City
Personnel: Lonnie Plaxico, bass; Lew Soloff, trumpet (1-5); Jeremy Pelt, trumpet (6-11); Tim Ries, saxophone (1-5); Marcus Strickland, saxophone (6-11); George Colligan, piano, keyboards (except 5); Helen Sung, piano, keyboards (2, 5, 6); Lionel Cordew, drums; Jeffrey Haynes, percussion