Denver saxophonist and bandleader Keith Oxman has released six albums on the Colorado-based Capri label since 1996, most recently Dues In Progress, a combination of six originals and six standards or jazz standards. Oxman has worked with a number of prominent jazz bandleaders including Art Blakey, Max Roach, Sonny Stitt and the Buddy Rich Big Band. The latter group best represents Oxman's current musical preference and arranging skills.
Oxman is joined by renowned trombonist Curtis Fuller, who also contributes one original, plus Alan Hood (trumpet), Peter Cooper (oboe), Chip Stephens (piano), Ken Walker (bass) and Todd Reid (drums). Marcus Hampton guests on trumpet on his original, "C.H.O.C."
Beginning with the Fragos/Baker/Gasparre standard, "I Hear A Rhapsody," which features a nifty Fuller solo, Oxman mixes standards with originals. His composition "Anna Kate," at medium tempo, succeeds as both an attractive tune and a good opportunity to hear Oxman and pianist Stephens play. "Cap 'N Kidd," a Curtis Fuller original, brings an infectious Caribbean vibe (think "St.Thomas") and a toe-tapping, finger-popping feel to the album.
On "Two And Fro," another original, Oxman plays hard in a post-Coltrane mode and edges closer toward taking the music out a bit more. Joe Henderson's "Serenity," given a relaxed reading, provides an opportunity for Oxman to slowly build to a heated solo; "Two Wheelin' Nathan" is a melodic blues with a reference to the era of soul-jazz of the 1960s; and the closing "Thirty One For Strayhorn" is a reflective ballad.
On other tracks, Oxman does a fine job of representing the standard ballads. "Darn That Dream" is a feature for oboist Peter Cooper, and "The Masquerade Is Over" provides a tenor sax stint for Oxman. The liner notes are by none other than Benny Golson, who makes some cogent observations about the players and tunes.
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).