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Combining some of the area’s brightest jazz stars in a collection which stretches and ocassionally leans outside the realms of jazz (often to great result), Boston World Jazz Project features drummer Dan Vigden and a rotating roll of his musical friends. Opening with the brass-splashed title track, the album soon finds Vigden smacking away on Dizzy Gillespie’s "Woody and You." Kicking in with a booming piano intro, Johnny Mercer’s "Autumn Leaves" falls into instant recognition as soon as Wayne Escoffery’s sax hits the groove.
Wayne Shorter’s "Fe-Fi_Fo-Fum" is a down tempo club piece which is not as giant a step as its name might imply, but BWJP’s take on Cole Porter’s "What Is This Thing Called Love" is a red hot and Latin burner with fiery sax flights and hot-handed piano courtesy of Alon Yavnai. Swinging through Billy Strayhorn’s "Upper Manhattan Medical Group," the band rises into a not-so-soft "Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise," peppered by Vigden’s cymbal-heavy percussive thunder. After a flipper-y take on "On Green Dolphin Street," the Project finds its project with the Vigden-penned groover "T. Funk," featuring Scott Aruda’s ever-sharp trumpet and Bruce Bears’s rhtyhm-hittin’ B-3.
Despite the apparent avaialbility of horn-y men like Aruda, a fully-swung swing through the Davis/Evans collaboration "Nardis" features saxophones in place of Miles’s golden horn. Whenthe funk bug returns for "The Funky Bee," down n’ dirty sax man Gordon Beadle joins Vigden as the driving force drummer shows his tru colors again. Flipping completely to the B-side, the album closes with the Muzak-y "If I Keep My Heart Out Of Sight." Though it may be a bit of a downturn after the Maceo-era drive of "Bee," Kerry Connor’s guitar washes and Bob Finnie’s vocalese keys make this James Taylor cover a pleasant smooth jazz closer.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.