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Byron Stripling accepts the mantle of Louis Armstrong.
Everything about Byron Stripling is good-natured. His trumpet playing is clearly understandable, fluent, and deeply influenced by Louis Armstrong. His singing is engaging and original while tipping its hat to Pops also. His two previous recordings, the 2000 Series initiating Striplingnow! (Nagel Heyer 2002) and his fully-assembled Satchmo lovefest, If I Could Be With You (Nagel Heyer 1010) support this. Stripling's new recording, Byron, Get One Free is a feel-good jazz recording with a big heart.
The disc is opened with the brass duet of Stripling and trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, a counterpoint on the melody of "Indiana" that would make Bach smile. The two horn players weave in and out of that old melody until the entire band joins them and just swing, swing, swing. "Con Alma" is taken straight ahead. There are two vocals on the disc, "Gee Baby, Ain't I been Good to You" and "I'm Old Fashioned." Stripling, a fine and uninhibited vocalist, brings off both with grace and aplomb. Hearing him sing makes this listener think Mr. Stripling is always smiling. The disc centerpiece is the original blues, "Byron, Get One Free." Complex and appealing, Stripling, tenorist Frank Wess, and Gordon all turn in good solos. Wess provides "Frank's Magic," a craggy little tome that is full of surprises. The disc closes with an almost Latin "Woody 'N You," concluding another strong release from Byron Stripling.
Track Listing: Indiana; Con Alma; Gee Baby, Ain't I Good To You; Frank's Magic; Lover Man; Sometimes I'm Happy; I Can't Give You Anything But Love; Byron, Get One Free; I'm Old Fashioned; Woody 'N You (Total Time: 60.21).
Personnel: Byron Stripling: Trumpet, Vocals; Wycliffe Gordon: Trombone; Frank Wess: Tenor Saxophone; Bill Charlap: Piano; Peter Washington, Ira Coleman: Bass; Dennis Mackrel: Drum.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.