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Wycliffe Gordon: Cone's Coup

Alain Londes By

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Few musicians focus on the trombone at an early age and maintain a certain sense of individuality as they mature professionally. Wycliffe "Cone Gordon is one of those serious trombonists, having had his interest piqued at the age of twelve, following his brother. Examples of other contemporaries would include Slide Hampton, Robin Eubanks and Steve Turre.

Wycliffe Gordon couches all the tunes between a fun, catchy and swinging minor blues vocal piece called simply "Shhh!!! (later "Hush Yo' Mouf!!") as the quintet draws our attention. The material on Cone's Coup includes a collection of Gordon originals interspersed with a few standards like "Just Friends and "Stars Fell on Alabama. The arrangements of these standards remain true to the originals. For example, Kurt Weill/Ogden Nash's well-known "Speak Low follows saxophonist Stacy Dillard's suggestion to stick to the original ballad format, rather than the medium to up-tempo rendition showcased by such luminaries as Coleman Hawkins on The Hawk Relaxes (OJC, 1961).

One of the highlights, "Yaht Doo Daht Ditt, is another Gordon original with a straight-ahead New Orleans flavor that will hopefully never go out of fashion. Dillard brings dark tones to his solo before the young Johnny O'Neal and Gordon each take their turn. An extended version of this piece within a live context would be ideal.

Besides Gordon, two other disciples from the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra are present—bassist Reginald Veal and drummer Herlin Riley—to provide solid rhythmic grounding. On "The Breaks, Gordon and Dillard showcase their respective virtuosity by at times communicating musically without the rhythm section, before bringing the full quintet into this fast-paced original. The band slows things down with another blues, "Blooz Hymn, which sounds like a quiet gospel song with the piano front and center, accompanied by Gordon's plunger-muted trombone sound.

Reginald Veal's rubato solo introduces the Coltrane classic "Mr. P.C., in honor, of course, of Paul Chambers. Wycliffe Gordon leads the energetic solos, followed by Dillard and Riley; Johnny O'Neal keeps silent. The pianist provides sumptuous textures, especially on the penultimate tune, "Cruise Blues, which helps draw the show to a close with quiet and expressive notes by the two front men.

Track Listing: Shhh!!! (The Band Is Trying to Play); Yaht Doo Daht Ditt; Sweet Spot; Blues for Alice's Freight Train; Speak Low; Breaks; Blooz Hymn; Just Friends; Stars Fell on Alabama; Mister P.C.; Cruise Blues; Hush Yo' Mouf!!

Personnel: Wycliffe Gordon: vocals, trombone; Stacy Dillard: saxophone; Johnny O'Neal: piano; Reginald Veal: bass; Herlin Riley: drums.

Title: Cone's Coup | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Criss Cross

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