Although his major claim to fame up to this point has been time spent with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, trombonist Vincent Garner is a very likely candidate for the category of talent seeking of wider recognition. As a follow-up to his debut set Elbow Room
(Steeplechase, 2006), this effort not only sheds light on his skills as a trombonist but also reminds us of the musical legacies of Frank Foster and Horace Silver. The Good Book: Chapter One
brings back the quintet heard on Gardner's first disc (with Marc Cary replacing Aaron Goldberg on piano) while mining the catalogs of Foster and Silver and giving a coat of fresh paint to these attractive pieces.
Of the Foster tunes, it's "Shiny Stockings that gets the most sagacious reworking, use of space and syncopation, helping to alter a well-known line. Of more recent vintage, "Sean's Jones Comes Down is Foster's play on words as homage to the young trumpeter. Its form includes a few bars of ¾ thrown in to keep all on their toes, with Walter Blanding's soprano work proving to be a revelation in terms of his tone and ideas. As for Gardner's voice, he goes for a blend somewhere between swing stylists such as Vic Dickenson, Lawrence Brown and the bop sensibilities of J.J. Johnson. At times, his tone is slightly reminiscent of the warm timbre of a French horn.
The Silver numbers tap the less obvious and the disc is all the better for it. "African Queen is one of the highlights from Silver's Cape Verdean Blues (Blue Note, 1965) and Gardner and company stretch out for their own extended cruise abetted by the highly musical drumming of Quincy Davis. Joe Henderson's "Mo'Joe is another gem from the previously mentioned Cape Verdean set. As for the iconic "Que Pasa? from Song for My Father (Blue Note, 1964), the blend of soprano sax and trombone gives this reading a unique flavor, a quality that pretty much permeates the entire disc. This, of course, elevates the recital beyond your typical tribute album and bodes well for Gardner's further development as an individualist with something important to say.
Personnel: Vincent Gardner: trombone; Walter Blanding: tenor and soprano sax; Marc Cary: piano; Greg Williams: bass; Quincy Davis: drums.