How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
This is an amiable, easy–grooving session by five gentlemen who make their living teaching young people the fundamentals of Jazz. They’ve learned those fundamentals well, and put them to productive use in a varied mainstream program that won’t set any worlds afire but breezes nicely along from start to finish with enterprising work by all hands. All of the tunes were written by members of the quintet — five by guitarist Smith, one by saxophonist Cox, and two modest gems (“Sonya,” “Deedle, Deedle”) by bassist Fischer who with Cox and Breithaupt is a regular participant in the “new music reading sessions” at the annual conference of the International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE). Much of this is generic small–group Jazz (one would be hard–pressed to identify the quintet in a blindfold test), although on one number, “Deedle, Deedle,” the vibes/piano interplay sounds (purposely, perhaps) much like the better–known George Shearing Quintet with Breithaupt’s tasteful brushwork enhancing the impression. There’s some zestful percussion by Cobbs, especially on Cox’s “Barton Springs” and Smith’s “Till Then,” and one ill–advised nod toward funk, Smith’s “Beatnik” (which does, however, swing). A well–constructed session that is upraised considerably by Fischer’s two impressive compositions.
Track listing: These Guys; Deedle, Deedle; Allways; Ralf’s Tune; Barton Springs; Till Then; Beatnik; Sonya (51:53).
Michael Cox, saxophones, clarinet; Stan Smith, guitar; Joe Hunter, piano; Lou Fischer, basses; Jim Ed Cobbs, vibes, percussion; Bob Breithaupt, drums.