Trombonist Jimmy O'Connell has been slowly and steadily climbing the ladder of jazz success since leaving his Detroit home and arriving in New York in 2009. Over the course of his seven years in the Big Apple, O'Connell has had the opportunity to work with leading lights like trumpeter Randy Brecker and saxophonist Paquito D'Rivera, contribute to burgeoning large groups like The Revive Big Band and The Steven Feifke Big Band, and make his mark with his own Jimmy O'Connell Sixtetyes, sixtet, not sextetand a quintet that he co-leads with fellow trombonist Peter Nelson. Now, after paying his dues and putting his best foot forward for all that time, Jimmy O'Connell is stepping into the light with his first release.
Arrhythmia is a debut of promise and passion. It's filled with salt of the earth jazz, neither too complicated nor lowbrow, and it delivers music that hits you straight on. Hearing this album from start to finish is basically the on-record equivalent of catching a set at New York City's Smallsa popular subterranean spot for those looking for real-deal jazz without the fancy attire, astronomical cover charge, and unnecessary accoutrements.
O'Connell and company deliver an hour's worth of solid sounds here, opening with a lively take on J.J. Johnson's "Lament," closing with the soulful and low-key "Solidarity," and hitting six other stops in between. For originals there's "Gray Matter," a number that's set in motion by a four measure bass ostinato and marked by the presentation of open pathways for exploration; "Arrhythmia," a buoyant yet relaxed nod to the leader's heart condition; "(Millie) In June," a waltzing swing number that finds O'Connell and saxophonist Andrew Gould working in lyrical fashion; and "Crayons," a straight-eighth number in seven that feels perfectly natural. As for covers, O'Connell gives us an energetic trip through pianist Cedar Walton's "Bolivia" and an appropriately misty "In The Wee Small Hours." Both numbers prove to be completely in line with expectations.
There's plenty of blowing room in this program, giving O'Connell, Gould, guitarist Tim Basom, pianist Tuomo Uusitalo, bassist Peter Slavov, and drummer Jimmy Macbride ample space to shine. But O'Connell doesn't sacrifice the integrity of his work to allow for that space. He's managed to showcase the strong solo personalities in his band while also crafting memorable tunes and arrangements. Arrhythmia is a great first step for a trombonist and composer who's likely to keep moving in the right direction.
Lament; Gray Matter;
Bolivia; Arrhythmia; In The
Wee Small Hours; (Millie) In
June; Crayons; Solidarity.
All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.
You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.
African Jazz Beyond Jazz Big Band Blues Brazilian / Bossa Nova / Samba Classical / Chamber Dixieland / New Orleans / Swing Electronica Free Improv / Avant-Garde Fringes of Jazz Funk / Groove / Acid Jazz Fusion / Progressive Rock Hot Jazz / Gypsy Jazz Jam Band Latin Lounge / Exotica Modern Jazz R&B / Soul Straight-ahead (Bop, Hard bop, Cool) Vocal