All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.
Young trombonist Alex Heitlinger, not far removed from his undergrad days at the University of Colorado, leads a seasoned sextet through its paces on a moderately successful debut album of post bop jazz that transcends some problems to offer a reasonably productive listening experience.
The session encompasses ten of Heitlinger's compositions, and therein lies one of its basic shortcomings, as none of them is of more than passing interest. While everyone plays respectably, the smoldering get-together never really catches fire, perhaps coming closest on the last track, "Xela - Trombone Warrior." Another hindrance is Art Lande's piano, which is recorded too prominently and tends to draw one's focus away from the soloists.
On the other hand, there are more than a few instances of intrepid blowing by Lande, Heitlinger, trumpeter Greg Gisbert, bassist Dwight Kilian and saxophonist Peter Sommer who impresses on tenor ("Xela," "Green Light," "Roberta's Scarf"), alto ("The Foot") and soprano ("Crazy Jake"). Heitlinger's even-tempered style is complemented by a velvety tone, reminiscent of Scott Whitfield or Great Britain's Mark Nightingale, that is most persuasive on the tranquil ballad "Magical Interstices/Casco Bay."
Even though Green Light is less than memorable, for the reasons noted above, Heitlinger is an accomplished musician who shows great promise, and it's a safe bet that we'll be hearing much more from him in the months and years to come.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.