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Z: Bad Guys

Mark Corroto By

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Z: Bad Guys Face it: jazz will never again regain the audience (or power) it held sixty, fifty, or even forty years ago. The giants—Monk, Mingus, and Coltrane—are gone. Sure, the listeners who read these reviews are moved by the music, but the kids in the streets are marching to a different beat... literally.

We temper our enthusiasm for this music, sharing it with like-minded listeners. Sometimes when a hard-hitting disc like Bad Guys comes out, you are tempted to drop it into your neighbors' sound system and challenge them to dig what's being put down. Go ahead and do just that. The Zé Eduardo and Jack Walrath Quartet is strong enough to hold its own in circles beyond jazz.

Don't get me wrong. Bad Guys is a pure jazz recording, flowing straight from the musical tradition of Charles Mingus through his ex-trumpeter, Jack Walrath. Portuguese bassist Zé Eduardo has listened to his fair share of Mingus too. He projects a large sound that refuses to leave the front lines of any recording.

Walrath and Eduardo are joined by two Spaniards, the Coltrane-influenced saxophonist Jesus Santandreu and a dynamo of a drummer, Marc Miralta. Big Mingus-like fingers open the disc with the Thelonious Monk-inspired tune "Simian Spring Song, penned by Walrath. Away you go. Walrath pushes the holier-than-hip trumpet throughout. He plays behind the beat often, as if to comment, "these guys are playing some powerful stuff here!

The call and response of "Novissims slows the action a bit, with Walrath and Santandreu trading phrases against Eduardo's drummer-less bass comments. I don't know what the title means, but its meditative aspects are chilling. The Mingus composition "Sue's Changes is a fitting cover for this band, with its time changes and mood shuffling. Walrath presents his entire resume here. A great history of jazz and emotion in one tune.

As Louis Jordan used to say, if this music doesn't move you, "Jack, you dead!

Track Listing: Simian Spring Song; Birds Fly Free; Novissims; Sue

Personnel: Jack Walrath: trumpet; Jesus Santandreu: tenor saxophone; Z

Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Clean Feed Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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