Jazz bassist Mary Ann McSweeney possesses a smooth touch and conveys a warm, organic tone throughout these eight affable pieces. She commences the opener, “R.B.’s Tribute” with a peppery ostinato motif as the sextet expounds upon the primary theme via a mid tempo swing, featuring young tenor sax dynamo Donny McCaslin’s brawny and angular phrasing. The band turns in a radiant rendition of Wayne Shorter’s “Yes and No” as the soloists encircle the familiar melody with intricate interplay and resonant harmonies.
Throughout, the musicians’ integrate rock beats, percussion, passionate soloing and heartfelt sentiment, whereas pianist also Henry Hey injects an electrified element into the band’s clever interpretation of the time honored spiritual, “Amazing Grace”. Otherwise, McSweeney and her band-mates meld a tango-based motif with modern jazz implementations on the softly executed, “Nana’s Tango”. They finalize the set with “Thoughts of You”, via serenading choruses and pensive lines atop faintly climactic developments. Essentially, what we have here, is a good, tasteful recording brimming with tight arrangements and the outfit’s sonorous exchanges. And while Thoughts of You may not represent anything remotely innovative, it stands tall among the overabundance of retro-Bop productions that have seemingly infiltrated the jazz marketplace.
Personnel: Mary Ann McSweeney; bass: Mike Fahn; tenor & valve trombone: Donny McCaslin; saxophones: Henry Hey; piano & Fender Rhodes: Tim Horner; drums: Joe Mowatt; percussion