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Roy Cumming: Edgeless

Mark F. Turner By

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Roy Cumming: Edgeless No hype. No technological wizardry or envelope pushing persuasions. Freelance bassist Roy Cumming and his trio—pianist David Leonhardt and drummer Paul Wells)—simply use excellent playing, true jazz interaction, and a suave demeanor, to produce the enjoyable Edgeless.

With a collective experience of more than sixty years in the biz they've played and/or composed for some of the who's who in jazz: Chick Corea, Hank Crawford, Joe Williams, Larry Goldings and many more. But if the music has taught us anything in recent years—it's that age detracts nothing from the artist's creative momentum as witnessed in recent recordings by the elders such as pianists Andrew Hill, Keith Jarrett, saxophonist Wayne Shorter and trumpeter Tomasz Stanko. Edgeless is equally invigorating and significant, in its own way.

If the trio's experience is one important aspect, then the other is their harmony. Though the foundation is set by Cumming and Wells and the melody by Leonhardt, each player's voice sings. From the opening of "Edgeless, which begins lightly then builds with swinging purpose, to the closing elegance of "Liza's Lament they anticipate, react, draw energy and stimulate one another—filling in the spaces organically almost like three soloists performing separately, yet always on the same page.

Another point is the original material written by Cumming. Though stylistic approaches may recall hints of Coltrane ("Little Giant ), Gershwin, Monk or others, the music feels and sounds new. With a song-like quality of Cole Porter and instrumental freedom, the music totally swings. Whether enjoying the tunes in a conversational setting or focusing on each phrase, the compositions fit comfortably into a variety of listening contexts.

The trio experience is one of collective and individual performances. They trade snappy solos on "Happy New You, or dive into ruminative waters in "Drizmal as Cumming opens with an authoritative bass solo that sets up the melody for Leonhardt to explore. Wells' feathery brushwork on the lovely "Tears Outside, or his tight solo on "Free Lunch are all detailed pieces of the trio's intricate sound.

Like a leaf floating in the breeze, sometimes you don't know where the music comes from or when it'll land your way. Edgeless is a pleasant surprise by veteran Roy Cumming and here's hoping that this trio will make another recording of this caliber.


Track Listing: Edgeless; Happy New You; Drizmal; Undertones; Little Giant; Tears Outside; Free Lunch; For the Buddah; Al's Tune; Liza's Lament.

Personnel: Roy Cumming: bass; David Leonhardt: piano; Paul Wells: drums.

Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Self Produced | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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