Another of Wynton Marsalis' discoveries, Wycliffe Gordon has established himself as a leading practitioner of the slide instrument on today's jazz scene helping to move along the renewed interest in an instrument which had fallen a few notches from the heights it once enjoyed. All of the technical wizardry and jazz tradition laid down by the likes Tricky Sam Nanton, Frank Rosolino, J.J. Johnson and Carl Fontana have been absorbed by the Georgia born Mr. Gordon. But technical ability and awareness of the tradition does not make for a good finished product unless what has been learned is artistically employed. And Gordon gets straight "A"s in that department as he and his confreres bustle through a play list of 13 tunes, some standards, some not so often heard jazz classics and Gordon originals.
On this session Gordon runs the gamut from blues to gospel, from swing to Latin, from classical sounding to bop, often employing more than one of these genres on the same tune. On W.C. Handy's "St. Louis Blues," the opening choruses take on a Latin beat, sequing into a raunchy, down on the floor New Orleans, before slipping back into Latin. Heavy testifying between Gordon and pianist Eric Reed follows adherence to the jagged lines of Thelonious Monk's music as put down in "Green Chimneys." Like funky? Then hear Gordon's Tricky Sam Nanton wah wah trombone on "It don't Mean a Thing." Ellington is treated with great respect by Gordon as he applies a combination of classical and straight ahead jazz forms on "Mood Indigo," displaying versatility on the horn by some imaginative over dubbing. He calls on former Ellington vocalist of the 1960's, Milt Grayson for a pleading "Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me" with Victor Goines doing Jimmy Hamilton clarinet in support. Gordon can swing, slide, and tongue with the trombone. He can even laugh and moan on "Blooz...First Thaingh `Dis Moanin," engaging in a lively conversation with Goines' tenor. Gordon's strong religious beliefs are apparent with a fervently played Gordon composed "My God." Gordon's heavy bottomed melodic tuba is dubbed to assure that this tune is a solemn occasion.
Gordon is superbly supported by a high grade rhythm section of Eric Reed, Rodney Whitaker and Herlin Riley. Reed especially is heard to good effect throughout and like Gordon, shows that he is adept in all jazz styles. When called on to participate, Joe Temperley's soprano and baritone saxophones and Randy Sandke's trumpet contribute mightily. This is a very interesting attention keeping album and is highly recommended.
Tracks:Mood Indigo; Green Chimneys; It Don't Mean a Thing; Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me; Jolly Jume Jumey (Wycliffe II); New Awlins'; Amazing Grace; St. Louis Blues; What?; Blooz...First Thaingh `Dis Moanin'; Beauty's in the Eye; The "Hallelujah" Shout; My God