The second release by drummer Jason Bodlovich captures the essence of the great jazz saxophonist Dexter Gordon with a pervasive blues and swing mood. Bodlovich leads an exciting group of musicians who faithfully interpret these still-thriving standards. The two factors which help make this an enjoyable listen are simply the music and the musicians.
In addition to bassist Ray Brown and trumpeter Jay Thomas, the band consists of the lesser known but equally talented Steve Wolfe on tenor sax, and Larry Fuller on piano. The musicians clearly gel together as one with an emphasis on the music that is conveyed with high enthusiasm.
The recording includes selections by (among others) Dexter Gordon, Donald Byrd, and the Gershwins. It begins with the Dexter Gordon composition “The Panther,” with the tight rhythm section of Bodlovich and Ray Brown supporting the melody. Gordon’s classic “Cheesecake” gets a swing workout as the band blows confidently in high fashion. Bodlivich shows flair and precision as he guides the band with impeccable drumming. Good rhythm, not soloing, is his primary goal, as each selection is filled with crisp rim shots, flowering cymbals, and vivid rhythms. The horn section is aggressive on “The Dual” as Wolfe and Thomas trade eager solos against the hard bop rhythm. The band changes moods on the serene “Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out to Dry,” which features a nice piano solo by Fuller.
It’s about the heart and the soul of the blues as the group expounds the message clearly on Donald Byrd’s soulful “Tanya.” Where Bodlovich’s rhythms create the heartbeat, the great Ray Brown’s stellar fretwork is definitely the soul of the recording. His bass walks, moves, and grooves on each of the selections. One of the highlights features an impressive bass and drum duet. With all around good sounds and the correct mindset, Blues For Dexter could temporality transport you back to 52nd Street.