470

David "Fathead" Newman: Diamondhead

Douglas Payne By

Sign in to view read count
David "Fathead" Newman: Diamondhead Diamondhead is the ninth of David "Fathead" Newman's HighNote recordings (not the seventh, as the disc's notes state) and it's a typically enjoyable outing of soulful bop with no surprises but some exceedingly fine playing that holds up well after multiple listens. Pianist Cedar Walton is Newman's trump card here and a real asset to the group's groove. Both these Texas natives go back to Lee Morgan's Sonic Boom (Blue Note, 1968) and the pianist was first featured on Newman's own Resurgence (Muse, 1980). They make for a formidable partnership on this, their third meeting on a Newman disc. Another key ingredient is underrated veteran trombonist Curtis Fuller on four of the more up-tempo numbers. Fuller first recorded with Newman on the under-appreciated Song For The New Man (HighNote, 2003) and has a close partnership with Walton that dates back to their time in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers.

As always, the best tunes here are the Newman originals. First, there's the acoustic funk of the title track, which reworks Eddie Harris' "Listen Here" groove into a tribute. Everyone really works up a heady bit of steam here, including drummer Yoron Israel who seems to be in the right place at the right time throughout the disc. Newman pays sweet homage to Harris and Walton hasn't sounded this funky since his Prestige days. There's also the spritely "My Full House," a newly-titled version of "Lonesome Head" that Newman debuted on a 1994 Winard Harper album and later performed, also with Curtis Fuller, on Song For The New Man. Finally, there's the delightfully clever "Mama Lou," which hasn't been heard on disc since its inception on Newman's Resurgence, which also featured Walton.

A highlight of any jazz set featuring Walton is one of the pianist's own compositions and, fortunately, the wonderfully playful "Cedar's Blues" is heard here (the composer recorded it with Curtis Fuller on a 1985 Red album of the same name). This is a good old-fashioned bit of foot-tapping, finger-snapping jazz in the Messengers tradition. It's a wonder to hear these veterans in fine fettle, with chops still intact, tackle exciting music like this and stirring the fire so admirably.

Newman also covers some inevitable jazz warhorses ("Skylark," "Star Eyes" and "It's You or No One) and redeems Billy Joel's surprisingly tuneful "New York State of Mind," throwing some tasty song quotes into his solos too. Unfortunately, he limits his tremendously exciting flute playing here only to "Mama Lou" and the first half of "New York." Maybe one day he'll consider doing an all-flute album, even at the risk of alienating those who rightly love the majestic soul of his sax playing.

David "Fathead" Newman has had a remarkably consistent recording career over the last half century (and markedly prolific since signing onto HighNote) and Diamondhead is one of the purest of pleasures in his capacious catalog.


Track Listing: Diamondhead; Can't We Be Friends?; New York State Of Mind; Cedar's Blues; My Full House; Skylark; Star Eyes; Mama-Lou; It's You Or No One.

Personnel: David "Fathead" Newman: tenor sax, alto sax, flute; Curtis Fuller: trombone (1, 4, 5, 9); Cedar Walton: piano; Peter Washington: bass; Yoron Israel: drums.

Title: Diamondhead | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: HighNote Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Open Book CD/LP/Track Review Open Book
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Stolen Moments CD/LP/Track Review Stolen Moments
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Sonder CD/LP/Track Review Sonder
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Putting Off Death CD/LP/Track Review Putting Off Death
by Glenn Astarita
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Albert Mangelsdorff And His Friends CD/LP/Track Review Albert Mangelsdorff And His Friends
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 16, 2017
Read Heaven On Their Minds CD/LP/Track Review Heaven On Their Minds
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: August 16, 2017
Read "Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1" CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Ubuntu" CD/LP/Track Review Ubuntu
by James Nadal
Published: September 8, 2016
Read "June" CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read "Twin" CD/LP/Track Review Twin
by Fiona Ord-Shrimpton
Published: April 6, 2017
Read "Dream Within A Dream" CD/LP/Track Review Dream Within A Dream
by Ian Patterson
Published: June 22, 2017
Read "From the Nocturnal Chironian" CD/LP/Track Review From the Nocturnal Chironian
by Dave Wayne
Published: March 14, 2017

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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