It's not uncommon for a familial air to surround a band or a recording session. The bonds forged through the music, after all, play up trust and sympathies to a high degree. But some albums even go a step beyond that norm in their connective magnetism, and this is most certainly one of them.
Family Feeling is more than a simple gathering of high-caliber peers; it's a date driven by the desire to impart aural wisdom and an ode to the forwarding of jazz itself. The six participants in the projecttrumpeter Terell Stafford, saxophonists Dick Oatts and Tim Warfield, pianist Bruce Barth, bassist David Wong and drummer Byron Landhamcall themselves colleagues, as they walk the halls of academia together as educators at Temple University. Of course, they also share bandstands both near and far and, in joining forces here, a fraternal vibe is ever-present in their interactions.
All eight tunes on this date come from Barth's fertile mind and pen, yet each benefits from what the musicians bring to the table. Opener "Blues For Mr. Tyner" is elevated by Wong and Landham's buoyant pulse, each horn man's respective statements, and Barth's firm presence. "Ven Conmigo" taps into the sunny Antilles, bringing Afro-Latin rhythmic touches and tropical breeziness to ground. The title track balances the earthy and sophisticated in its shuffling gait and soulful carriage. And "Ongoing Stories" melds the reflective and the resolute, looking inward while maintaining a purposeful posture.
That first half of the album leaves no doubt as to the strong chemistry at play within this crew. But the second half finds the band doubling-down and displaying what camaraderie is all about. "Mode For Trane" moves with unflagging intensity, living up to its namesake in the process; "Why Not" is both tightly coiled and loose-knit in nature, working high-gear exploits, free play, and dovetailing designs into one intriguing package; "Warm Night" plays as pure tenderness couched in balladic terms, placing beauty and heart on a pedestal; and "T Staff Flies Again" salutes Stafford, who helms the jazz ship at Temple with style and grace. There's more than a few things to learn from these men here, just as in the classroom.
Blues for Mr. Tyner; Ven Conmigo; Family Feeling; Ongoing Stories; Mode for Trane; Why Not; Warm Night; T Staff Flies Again.
Terell Stafford: trumpet; Dick Oatts: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone; Bruce Barth: piano; Tim Warfield: tenor saxophone, soprano
saxophone; David Wong: bass; Byron Landham: drums.