It's no secret among professional musicians that the elite military jazz ensembles such as the "U.S. Army Blues," the Air Force's "Airmen of Note," and the Navy's "Commodores" consist of some of the finest musicians on the planet. Trumpeter Craig Fraedrich, recently-retired 30-year Army Bandsman, his Trilogy crew, and vocalist Christal Rheams are spit-shining examples. And, All Through the Night
which features Fraedrich and his former military colleagues in this civilian recording session certainly confirms that.
Fraedrich is one of those players known by those in the know as a swinging, technically superior, jazz artist and it's no different on this date. Stepping off, his crew cuts into the old Al Jolson workhorse, "Avalon"---here an up-tempoed burner---after Rheams opens the swinging melodic door and pianist Tony Nalker offers a very tasty Boppish solo. Rheams shows fine pipes here and throughout the entire session. Reserved, yet swinging, she plays things straight covering Charlie Chaplin's ballad, "Smile"usually a sentimental album closer. The entire group fires up "Without a Song," which features a "Cute"-like interplay between pianist Tony Nalker and drummer Todd Harrison.
It is interesting that half of this album's cuts are traditionals or selections usually associated with iconic artists (Marian Anderson
, Lena Horne
, Billie Holiday
). The challenge, of course, would be for any artist to offer unique perspectives without straying far from the tried and true. "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen" is delivered triple-metered straight with Rheams carrying the melodic and emotional weight and with Fraedrich tastefully Harmonizing for "Miles" on end. Later, "Motherless Child" is sent up dark blue, deep, and heavier-pulsing with the group playing at its emotional peak. Trad tale "Frankie and Johnny" here is another cooker where all shine. "The Gospel Truth," a Fraedrich original, has the leader plunging his way on, calling and responding with Nalker, as he spews the Word. It's a neat, fun cut. "Strange Fruit" is, as you'd expect, a horrific, sad tale wherein Rheams and all show their dramatic skills and rip hearts out. There's more melodrama and fine singing by Rheams on "I Am a Poor Wayfaring Stranger."
Fraedrich is player who has a focused, inviting Kenny Dorham
esque sound on "Blues Another Day." Favoring longer improvised lines, his playing has shades of both Freddie Hubbard in technical chops and certainly KD in lyricism. He parlays ideas from nuggets and expands on them in length there and on the bucket o' slow funk, "St. James Infirmary," which also features a nice Paul Henry bass solo. "All Through the Night," no pure lullaby here, is offered as a tasty vamp-ish conclusion to the session. All Through the Night
is a very
distinctive and most enjoyable album which, when inspected, confirms that hard-snap salutes are indeed the order of the day. Fall in.
Avalon; Smile; Nobody Knows the Trouble I See; Without a Song; The Gospel Truth; Frankie and Johnny; Strange Fruit; Blues Another Day; I Am a Poor, Wayfaring Stranger; Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child; St. James Infirmary; All Through the Night.
Craig Fraedrich: trumpet and flugelhorn; Christal Rheams: vocals; Tony Nalker: piano; Todd Harrison: drums; Paul Henry: bass.