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Tommy Newsom Sextet: Friendly Fire

Mike Neely By

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You may know Tommy Newsom as the congenial big band sidekick on the Johnny Carson Show. But you may not know that he plays a bluesy, big-assed saxophone with intelligence, and style. On Friendly Fire he’s put together a quintet of pros who swing with something to say. Included is trombonist Bob Enevoldsen. Anyone who’s listened to West Coast jazz seriously will recognize Enevoldsen as a first choice big band trombonist who recorded on classic sessions with Bill Holman, Gerry Mulligan, and Art Pepper, to name a few. The treat on this recording is to hear Enevoldsen in a more intimate setting swapping solos with Newsom and friends.

Tommy Newsom is simply excellent throughout this disc, vigorous and commanding. Some of the highlights are his exchanges with Enevoldsen, and their counter pointed lines that intertwine gracefully while remaining emotionally on key. Newsom has mastered many shades and styles; his blues and swing credentials run deep and the evidence is all here. Enevoldsen excels is in the slower to medium tempo numbers in the solo spotlight. In addition, Enevoldsen’s trombone weaves among the others in a conversational style that has a way of adding depth and texture to the interaction of the band.

Pianist John F. Hammond is more than holds his own in this sophisticated company, switching between supportive and solo roles effortlessly. His is a bluesy sound that balances Newsom’s. All three lead instruments consistently offer intelligent solo work above the extremely tight, traditional bass, drums, and guitar trio of Jim Hughart, Dave Hunt, and Bob Bain. This is a band that listens deeply and plays together with drive. This is a disc that offers a first-rate performance by a group of remarkable pros.

Track Listing: Close Your Eyes; Just Friends; Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise; Do Nothin

Personnel: Tommy Newsom, tenor saxophone; Bob Enevoldsen, trombone; John F. Hammond, piano; Bob Bain, guitar; Jim Hughart, bass; Dave Hunt, drums.

Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Arbors Records | Style: Dixieland/New Orleans/Swing


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