209

Wycliffe Gordon: Cone's Coup

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count
Trombonist Wycliffe Gordon warrants that the last be stated first: he is the most soulful and technically proficient trombone player composing, performing, and educating today. Period.

As Gordon closes in on twenty years as a performing jazz musician, he never ceases to challenge the listener with something new. Cone's Coup is a perfect case in point. Gordon amiably throws down the gauntlet, daring the listener to find something not accessible and fresh. Gordon's original composition "Shhh!!! (the Band is Trying to Play)" shows off his omnipotent command of the plunger-muted trombone, as well as engaging his singing ability. Concerning the former, if Mozart perfected Haydn's string quartet, then Gordon perfected Ray Nance's talking trombone. Concerning the latter, Gordon sings with the spirit, tradition and molasses-slow Southern diction of Jack Teagarden, without falling into mere imitation. The style is old jazz, on the riverboat to St. Louis before stopping in Chicago.

"Yhat Doo Dhat Ditt" and "Sweet Spot" are blues pieces widely featuring the fine saxophonist Stacy Dillard, who plays with the crushed porkpie approach of Lester Young, wearing Coleman Hawkins' vibrato coat. Gordon shows himself completely in command of the blues on both pieces. The members of his piano trio, all well known to the trombonist, swing with a confident ease. "Blues for Alice's Freight Train," a Charlie Parker/Tommy Flanagan mash up, is fresh bebop. Gordon deftly joined Parker's "Blues..." with Flanagan's "Freight Train"; after a brief head with saxophonist Dillard, the two play a chorus, overlaying the two melodies. The result is a crisp bop counterpoint that illuminates Gordon's facility. The mash up provides a vehicle for burning solos by Gordon and Dillard, as well as pianist Johnny O'Neal and bassist Reginald Veal. Dillard and Gordon indulge in another bit of such counterpoint on the Gordon original breaks, where the two have a solo duel.

The ballads are well-paced and sumptuous, in particular "Stars Fell on Alabama," where Gordon's breathy tone is at its most controlled, creamy and smooth. "Blooze Hymn" recalls his superb collaboration with pianist Eric Reed on We. The disc's highlight comes next with the most progressive piece, John Coltrane's blues, "Mr. P.C." Beal's rumbling bass introduces the perfectly conceived interpretation, breaking into a fast 4/4 followed by the familiar head and a fiery solo from the leader as a bass/drums/'bone trio. Once Gordon finishes, saxophonist Dillard and drummer Herlin Riley recreate the John Coltrane/Elvin Jones axis, and Riley has a chance to show his wares.

Cone's Coup, an exceptional recording by any measure, will find its way to my best-of-the-year list. Let's hope for much more of this music.


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


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn CD/LP/Track Review Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: November 18, 2017
Read The Princess CD/LP/Track Review The Princess
by Mark Corroto
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Queen City Blues CD/LP/Track Review Queen City Blues
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Latin Lover CD/LP/Track Review Latin Lover
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Reclamation CD/LP/Track Review Reclamation
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Provenance CD/LP/Track Review Provenance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 17, 2017
Read "Directions" CD/LP/Track Review Directions
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: September 15, 2017
Read "Unnatural  Events" CD/LP/Track Review Unnatural Events
by Roger Farbey
Published: August 16, 2017
Read "Luisa" CD/LP/Track Review Luisa
by Doug Collette
Published: July 1, 2017
Read "Swiss Radio Days, Vol. 40 - Zurich 1959" CD/LP/Track Review Swiss Radio Days, Vol. 40 - Zurich 1959
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 9, 2017
Read "Before The Silence" CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Opening Statement" CD/LP/Track Review Opening Statement
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 3, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.

Please support out sponsor