A sextet lineup allows for the extra saxophone sound that means more harmony, more color, and a fuller aural picture. And yet there's clearly an ease of control because the ensemble is still small enough to work together well and allow for soloists to stretch out. Trumpeter Joe Sullivan brings his sextet of saxophonists Andre Leroux and Jean Frechette, bassist George Mitchell, pianist Tilden Webb, and drummer Dave Robbins to the studio for his second recording venture as a leader. Exposure at this year's Montreal Jazz Festival helped the larger jazz community to discover Sullivan's modern mainstream compositions, but the widespread recognition due his sextet is just around the corner.
Three ballads and six up-tempo jaunts, all composed by the leader, make up the session. Picking up the flugelhorn for "Silent Sarah" and "The Last Wave," Sullivan emphasizes one of his strengths with a soft, pretty tone, accurate pitch and adequate breath support. The fluid and flexible manner with which he weaves a melody carries over to the trumpet as well; the title track, "Rumours From The Soul," is a drifting, dissonant ballad on which Sullivan blends his trumpet cries with the baritone and tenor saxophone team. It's quite refreshing.
"Irish Flame" features the tenor saxophone of Andre Leroux in a hot up-tempo romp that allows him to wail. Sullivan echoes that intensity with a trumpet solo, and bassist Mitchell maintains the pace. To emphasize and punctuate his solo, the bassist slaps his strings and pours out rapid-fire phrases. "Unfamiliar Surroundings" highlights the baritone saxophone work of Jean Frechette over a rhythmic blues-derived piece that serves to reveal a Mingus composer's influence. Leroux and Frechette battle each other on "La Danse des Maringouins" over another fascinating syncopated rhythmic piece. Since the label is from Canada, this recording may not be available everywhere, but Nu-Jazz Records can be contacted at (514) 485-5773 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Recommended.