Jean Toussaint, a graduate of Berklee College of Music and an alumnus of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers has assembled a veritable all-star cast for his follow-up to Tate Song (Lyte Records, 2014). Even more remarkable is the permutation of personnel, which, other than Toussaint himself, changes on most tracks, affording a different perspective to the selections.
The boisterous opener "Amabo (I Shall Love)" is a keenly-swinging number which betrays some Caribbean / Latin-esque influences. There are some great ensemble passages too, replete with impressive handbrake-turn arrangements, and exhilarating piano breaks from Ashley Henry. By contrast, the thoughtful ballad "Doc" incorporates Byron Wallen's elegant Milesian harmon-muted trumpet.
The catchy ensemble riff to "Major Changes" is joyously infectious and "Mingus Fingus," is a complex, engaging paean to Charles Mingus. There are also three short interlude pieces dedicated respectively to drummer Idris Muhammad, brother Raymond Toussaint and Eddie Harris. The lively and harmonically-robust "Wonder Where" and the extended jam that encompasses "Amabo (I Shall Love) Reprise" close this set. Particularly remarkable is the florid piano work, again from Henry, on the final track. This superior album is consistently impressive, primarily due to Toussaint's strong compositional skills and the exceptionally skilled performances throughout.
Amabo (I Shall Love); Doc; Interlude For Idris; Major Changes; Letters To Milena; Brother
Raymond; Interlude For Eddie; Mingus Fingers; Interlude For Kirk; Wonder Where; Amabo (I
Shall Love) Reprise.
Jean Toussaint: tenor saxophone; Tom Harrison (10): alto saxophone; Byron Wallen (1-9, 11),
Mark Kavuma (10): trumpet; Dennis Rollins (1-3, 5-7, 9,11), Tom Dunnett (4,8): trombone;
Jason Rebello (1-3,5), Andrew McCormack (4,6,7), Ashley Henry (1-2,8-10): piano; Alec
Dankworth (1), Daniel Casimir (2-11): bass; Mark Mondesir (4,8), Shane Forbes (1,5-6,11), Troy
Miller (2,3,7,9-10): drums; Williams Cumberbatch Perez (1,4,7-8,10-11): congas, percussion.
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