How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
In the "saxophone with rhythm section" category, the key to distinction relies as much on the artist's frame of mind as it does superior musicianship. One of the saxophone giants of yesteryear, Dexter Gordon, had the chops, of course, on a series of splendid Blue Note albums in the sixties, with an extroverted, muscular, coming-right-at-you story-telling technique and a joyously brash frame of mind. On Perry Conticchio's Speak Your Truth, the leader and his band get into a similar mood. Conticchio displays great chops and a tone that is tart and robust, with clean, sharp articulation; and like Dexter before him, he blows the hell out of the horn, with an engaging chip on the shoulder (with a grin) attitude.
After an education at Miami University of Ohio and Berklee College of Music, the Washington DC-based saxophonist has been playing professionally along the East Coast for thirty years with his quartet, while contributing to projects with many area bands, including the Thad Wilson Jazz Orchestra and the jazz/funk trio Basement Breaks.
The rhythm section on Speak Your Truth, guitarist Rodney Richardson, bassist Andrew Elliot Cox, and drummer Lawrence "Bubbles" Dean, plays it crisp and tight behind the leader's freewheeling approach on eight strong Conticchio originals, along with the Vernon Duke/Ira Gershwin gem "I Can't Get Started" and a Sam Rivers selection, "Fuschia Swing Song," that features some of Conticchio's most searing tenor sax work on the disc. The set features the leader mixing up the sound with a full-bodied, Sidney Bechet-like soprano sax sound on a couple of cuts, and he brings in a couple of gueststrumpeter Joseph Brotherton and pianist Wayne Wilentzon a couple of tunes apiece.
A fine set of straight-ahead sounds by a top level band.
Track Listing: Speak Your Truth, Hyperbole, Midnight Rain, PD's Blues, November, Blues for Dave, Askold's Waltz, Samba Stephanie, Magic Mirror, I Can't Get Started, Fuschia Swing Song, Robertson Mountain
Personnel: Perry Conticchio--tenor and soprano saxophones; Rodney Richardson--guitar; Andrew Elliot Cox--accoustic bass; Lawrence "Bubbles" Dean--drums. With guests: Joseph Brotherton--trumpet on 2 & 9; and Wayne Wilentz--piano on 3 & 8