Dylan Cramer: All Night Long (2002)
A precise new voice.
I have previously reviewed this very release by Canadian Dylan Cramer. It originally followed up the altoist's Sonny Criss tribute disc The First One (DSM 3016, 1998) and was self-released on his Casa Label. All Night Long is an energetic collection of standards performed by Cramer's exceptional quartet. Cramer, a student of Criss, possesses a tone that is certainly influenced by Criss without being imitative of him. Cramer's tone is dry with a slight vibrato, and is a bit more Johnny Hodges than Charlie Parker, more early Art Pepper than Paul Desmond, and more Sonny Criss than Sonny Stitt.
Dylan Cramer plays with a deliberate joy and capability that reveals both his practice and dedication. While a competent blues player, I find Cramer's playing more lyrical than blues-based, much in the same way that Fred Hersch is more lyrically centered in his piano playing than his blues performance. He does however rock on the disc closer, Miles' "So What".
Cramer's choice of standards contains some surprises. "Bumpin'", Wes Montgomery's slow burning signature, adapts well to the alto saxophone landscape.. Likewise for Oliver Nelson's "Stolen Moments". That classic conforms effectively to Cramer's smaller format. "Estate" and Black Orpheus" have an attractive and understated Latinesque quality. "Loverman" is tender and caressing. The only hard point on the disc is an almost dirge-like "My Funny Valentine." While effective, it is funereal. Cramer takes great care in his song choice and in his performance. Where some might fault him for being too cautious, this critic applauds him for precise, well-manner playing.
There is no fault to be found in Cramer's beautiful tone and song choice. His rhythm section is more than capable and provides him informed support. All Night Long is a fine follow-up to The First One. Recommended.
Track Listing: Caruso; Estate; Bumpin'; Black Orpheus; All Night Long; Stolen Moments; Lover Man; Clouds; My Funny Valentine; So What. (Total Time: 50:11)
Personnel: Dylan Cramer: Alto Saxophone; Ron Johnson: Piano; Steve Holy: Bass; John Nolan: Drums.