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Phil Palombi: 80 East

Mark Corroto By

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In an interview recorded as an afterthought to American Classic, a 1982 Dexter Gordon session, the then sixty-one year old tenor saxophonist was asked about the future of jazz. He replied, “Bebop is the music of the future.” His return to the US from a self imposed exile not only signaled the resurgence of bebop but opened the door for a very young Wynton Marsalis to carry it’s banner. As succeeding generations answer the call, Dexter’s memory and his cause is in good hands. Case and point, bassist Phil Palombi is a loyal devotee to his calling as a bassist and bop composer.

Palombi’s debut as leader was named after the interstate that brought him from the Midwest to New York. Perhaps a more suitable title for this session would have been Palombi and the TDWR band. In what must be considered as recognition of his vast potential as a jazz bassist, his sidemen assembled is a venerable who’s-who of jazz-insider faculty. Fellow musicians and knowledgeable jazz fans have been searching out performances of and recordings by Harold Danko, Walt Weiskopf, and Joe Labarbera. Danko, an educator, has recorded with Chet Baker, Lee Konitz, Woody Herman, and Gerry Mulligan. His music spans that of John Coltrane and Bill Evans, mixing beautiful ballads with complex structures. Weiskopf also a jazz educator, is an encyclopedia of the tenor. His knowledge of history and sound makes for intelligent and, better yet, swinging recordings. Labarbera is best known as pianist Bill Evans’ last drummer, his touch added to the generous vibes Palombi wrote for this session.

Choosing material and writing for his session mates, Palombi chose to accent their musical gifts. The disc opens with the title track, a mid-tempo number that Palombi and Labarbera propel Danko and Weiskopf into quick time changes and slick improvised passages. The band doesn’t just burn though, programming several ballads allowed for some solid bass solos that bring perhaps George Mraz or Niels Henning-Orsted Pedersen to mind. A solid session and a fine introduction to the future of jazz envisioned by Dexter Gordon.


Track Listing: 80 East; I Should Care; Intrusion; Second Place; Piano Interlude; Heat; Joe Love; Wigglin’ & Squirmin’; Time Remembered; Time Travel; Bass Interlude; Home.

Personnel: Phil Palombi: Bass; Harold Danko: Piano; Joe Labarbera: Drums; Walt Weiskopf: Tenor Saxophone; Sarah Jane Cion: Piano (track 10).

Title: 80 East | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Palombi Music


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