It’s reassuring to hear groups making new strides and attracting new audiences in our cities and communities, one such group being the Bob Long Trio. Straight Roads,
their first release as a trio on Illinois’ Cellar Records, is an affirmation of joy, struggle, loneliness and companionship as working jazz artists.
With a modern approach and not-totally-electric, while not-totally-acoustic instrumentation, the Bob Long Trio churns seamlessly through a varied repertoire of lesser known standards, comtemporary straight-ahead charts, and originals. Keyboardist Bob Long leads the trio accompanied by Dave Marr (bass), and Tim Davies (drums), keeping your interest piqued throughout the introspective album.
The trio works beautifully together as a cohesive unit. Notable is the timbre of Marr’s bass juxtaposed against Long’s organ, which commands a great presence and assuredness in style, harmony and rhythmic intensity. Marr often goes off and does his own thing, playing only altered tones as on Joey Calderazzo’s "Midnight Voyage," yet somehow it still works. Davies provides inspiration and color throughout Billy Strayhorn’s "Upper Manhattan Medical Group" (most often known as U.M.M.G) and on Wayne Shorter’s "Night Dreamer." The album reminds me of Herbie Hancock’s Mwandishi years on Warner Brothers records. The psychedelic yet funky and swinging nature of the material just puts me in that 70s Herbie mindset. For a guy to be compared to Herbie Hancock in my book is excellent. Good job Bob!
If you are planning on being in Chicago, you have the chance to see the Bob Long / Brian Gephart Group at the Green Mill on Friday nights. Otherwise you might be interested in Straight Roads.
Personnel: Bob Long - Fender Rhodes electric piano, Hammond B3 organ;
Dave Marr - acoustic bass;
Tim Davies - drums.