Listening to trumpeter Bob Kase I’m reminded of Bobby Shew. Like Bobby, the tone on trumpet or flugel is bright and clear, the range exceptional, the chops razor–keen and equal to any task. Shew, of course, is much better known, but that’s to be expected when one’s career path leads him to big bands, studio work and honors as a sought–after soloist, as Bobby’s has, rather than the far less visible world of academia, in which Kase has invested much of his time, most recently as director of Jazz Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point. But within the heart of most music teachers lies the burning desire to play, to show the world that their knowledge and ability aren’t confined to textbooks and diagrams. On Weaver of Dreams, Kase not only shows that he’s a player with superior perception and technique but a first–rate composer as well. Seven of the eight songs on this debut album are his; the lone exception (a wonderful choice, by the way) is the title selection by Victor Young. Kase opens with a whimsical answer to Monk’s “Well You Needn’t” entitled “You Shouldn’t Have,” trades Dizzy’s “Salted” brand for some “Fresh Peanuts,” coaxes “Miles and Miles” of charm from a harmonically rich blues, “Wales” when necessary, is too busy busting his chops to worry about “Burnt Toast,” enlivens his “Blues for Harry” and ends, appropriately, with a lovely “Song” (accompanied only by bassist Rotaru). Along the way, Kase does about everything a seasoned trumpeter should do, leaving almost no phrase or facet unbound. If his colleagues are less successful, it’s only by comparison. Greiner, who has recorded at least once with his own ensemble, is workmanlike but unexceptional, a description that applies as well to pianist Buchman. Rotaru and Korb simply keep time, and do so respectably. Kase is the drawing card here, and it is his remarkable proficiency that carries the day.
Contact: Altenburgh Jazz, P.O. Box 154, Mosinee, WI 54455 (715–693–2230).
Track listing: You Shouldn’t Have; A Weaver of Dreams; Fresh Peanuts; Miles and Miles; Wales; Burnt Toast; Blues for Harry; Song (62:54).
Bob Kase, trumpet, flugelhorn; John Greiner, saxophones; Mathew Buchman, piano; Catalin Rotaru, bass; Ryan Korb, drums.