Listening to music can be a pleasant experience, and Keith Oxman serves up just the right recipe on Dues In Progress, his sixth album. Trombonist Curtis Fuller contributes one track, the happy, snappy, Latin zinger "Cap'n Kidd," and the other members of the band chip in with some fine performances. At the end of it all, the listener can breathe a sigh of high satisfaction.
Oxman, who wrote six of the tunes, leans towards bop, but he also throws in a bit of funk and knows how to swing. His tone on the tenor breathes a warm, coaxing fire that he moulds into each composition with flair and imagination.
Oxman uses various combinations to get the music across. He goes "Two and Fro with drummer Todd Reid, who gives shim, supple support as he weaves a maze of bop lines that curl and holler and cut a hard-as-nails groove. "Anna Kate, another Oxman composition, sets the pulse on swing. Oxman documents the approach with a lithe gait, taking an aside to break the lines as Al Hood comes in. Hood plays with a crisp intonation, his notes sharp yet tensile. But then pianist Chip Stephens wafts in with a sunny disposition that nevertheless complements what has passed, completing an enticing picture.
Joe Henderson's "Serenity has a bop edge, Oxman shaping the head before Stephens takes it on a tangent with a welter of improvised notes that move into melody land. Oxman rides the bop circuit, investing it with a host of ideas. The group wraps the session up with the liquid, luminous "Thirty One for Strayhorn, a ballad that flows with underlying passion and strong, palpable emotionquite the right closer for this record.
I Hear a Rhapsody; Susan; Dues in Progress; Anna Kate; Cap
Keith Oxman: tenor saxophone; Chip Stephens: piano; Ken Walker: bass; Todd Reid: drums;
Curtis Fuller: trombone; Al Hood, Marcus Hampton (11): trumpet; Peter Cooper: oboe (6).
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