Brian Lynch Brian Lynch Meets Bill Charlap
While he adroitly blows his way through a couple of medium-to-up tempo tracks with the edgy assurance of a veteran bebopper, the largest part of trumpeter/flugelhornist Brian Lynch’s latest disc on Sharp Nine Records displays a temperate approach to the music. A welcome relief from the clamor that characterizes a lot of today’s jazz, Lynch’s moderation as a player and bandleader is evident in a number of ways. He knows that melodies are to be relished instead of glossed over; tempos other than rapid ones make a positive impression; and music that breathes easily can be as effective as rough-hewn, densely textured sound.
Lynch possesses ample technique and a full, warm tone on the horn, but it’s his ability to imbue every note with an emotional weight (minus any mawkishness) that makes this record special. For example, the splendor of his rendition of the ballad “Autumn Nocturne” makes time stand still; and the way he subtly invokes a feeling of yearning during the bossa “Atras da Porta.” Accordingly, Lynch’s solo lines favor measured, linear development over fireworks and showy gestures. Moreover, his bandmates, pianist Bill Charlap, bassist Dwayne Burno, and drummer Joe Farnsworth are all on the same wavelength, ably balancing the roles of support and self-expression, following or inducing subtle shifts in emphasis, and nudging the music forward in ways more fluid than forceful.
The record opens with Lynch’s treatment of “On Green Dolphin Street.” He revitalizes this warhorse by recasting it in 7/4 time. The arrangement centers around a nice, easy rolling vamp played by the piano, bass, and drums, and the bridge has a conventional jazz feel. In particular, the contrast between the broad click of Farnsworth’s rim knocks and portions of triplets to the tom-toms gives the music an irresistible, dancing movement. Beginning the round of solos, Charlap initially takes his time playing around Farnsworth’s and Burno’s variations of the vamp and then becomes more expansive over their straight-ahead groove. Utilizing a mute throughout, Lynch’s turn starts by lazily building melodic lines that float over the rhythm section. A shooting double-time phrase toward the end of his first chorus signals change as he digs in and becomes more dynamic, all the while prodded by Farnsworth’s brusque snare drum fills. The drummer’s decidedly non-linear solo is structured but not hemmed in by the vamp. He offers a loose yet calculated configuration of rhythmic fragments, such as a stick to the bell of the cymbal, long, rigid rolls to the snare and toms, and poking, three and four stroke shots to all the drums, some of which are mindful of Burno and Charlap’s persistent accompaniment, and others that chafe against it.
Combining a strongly accented ostinato and a pensive melody, Lynch’s waltz “Before the First Cup” may not be a lyric writer’s dream; nonetheless the tune holds up well in comparison to the record’s selections from the American Popular Songbook (including “Autumn Nocturne,” “On Green Dolphin Street,” “My Heart Stood Still,” and “Come Rain or Come Shine”). Farnsworth keeps things from getting too settled by creating a choppy undercurrent with the boot of his bass drum, martial snare drum triplets, and irregularly timed cymbal crashes. Never straying from a romantic vein, the composer’s solo gradually moves from a dreamlike state to something grittier, as he increases the length and velocity of his lines.
The set’s closer “Blues For Gilad” is significant for the ways in which the rhythm section supports the soloists. During Lynch’s first two choruses, Farnsworth’s relaxed rim knock and tom-tom combinations provide an undemanding cushion. Conversely, there’s nothing rote about Charlap’s comping, as he moves from carefully chosen chords that mirror the drummer’s relaxed feel to those that shoot up and abruptly break off—all without disturbing the trumpeter’s flow. At the beginning of Lynch’s third chorus, Burno starts walking for the first time and Farnsworth begins to keep straight time on the ride cymbal and the hi-hat. The music immediately begins to jump and the trumpeter swings harder and plays with more raw emotion. Burno and Farnsworth adopt a similar strategy for Charlap’s penetrating turn. Farnsworth serves up a slightly different rhythmic quality toward the end of Burno’s solo when he plays the lightest of shuffle beats, and carries it over into Lynch’s single chorus, right before the band takes the tune out.
1. On Green Dolphin Street
2. Autumn Nocturne
3. My Heart Stood Still
5. Before the First Cup
6. Atras da Porta
7. On the Dot
8. Come Rain or Come Shine
9. Blues For Gilad
Brian Lynch—trumpet/flugelhorn; Bill Charlap—piano; Dwayne Burno—bass; Joe Farnsworth—drums.
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