Andy McCloud's Gentlemen of Jazz: Blues For Bighead (2002)
Bassist Andy McCloud convenes the Gentlemen of Jazzhis working bandto produce a satisfying set of straight-ahead improvised music. Around jazz since the New York loft scene, McCloud worked with likes of Elvin Jones in the late ‘70s, Clifford Jordan in the early ‘80s, and Hilton Ruiz through the ‘90s. Blues for Bighead represents McCloud’s first disc as a leader. The all-original program of blues and blues-oriented pieces provides some engaging twists: for one, the presence of Steve Nelson on vibes in the seat traditionally occupied by piano in a quartet ensemble. Nelson really stretches out on “Lisa” and his mallet-work reinforces the groovy atmosphere. Joe Ford’s piercing yet soulful voice on alto and soprano saxophones captures the listener’s attention throughout the session. His alto on the opening number evinces a sophisticated command of the blues idiom. Ford cuts loose long, flowing upper-register phrases on his solo on “Waltz for a Nebulous Woman”. McCloud himself keeps things fresh by displaying the full complement of bass technique: fat walking lines on “Blues for Bighead” and a bowed introduction and closing on “Waltz for a Nebulous Woman”. Bass and piano make an enticing duet. McCloud presents two numbers, “Song for Lou” and “Who Is My Mother”, with pianist Larry Willis. Fans of mainstream jazz will find their generic expectation fulfilled by this debut offering from a jazz journeyman.
Track Listing: Blues for Bighead; Beatrice; Song for Lou; Waltz for a Nebulous Woman; Who Is My Mother; I
Personnel: Andy McCloud - bass; Joe Ford - alto and soprano saxophones; Steve Nelson - vibes; Victor Jones - drums; Larry Willis - piano on Song for Lou and Who Is My Mother