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Chuck Redd: Groove City

Dan Bilawsky By

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How do you get into the zone, where do your thoughts travel, and what realm do you occupy when playing and recording? The answer to that multi-pronged question, while no doubt slightly different for every musician, can be boiled down fairly easily. To paraphrase Chuck Redd's thoughts on the matter, you just appreciate the moment and travel right down to Groove City.

The sixth album from this veteran vibraphonist finds him practicing exactly what he preaches, zeroing in on the feel of a song while making seemingly effortless music that smiles and often swings. Of course, it helps that he's in the company of like-minded players who can do the same. With John di Martino on piano, Nikki Parrott on bass, Lewis Nash on drums, and Jerry Weldon guesting on tenor saxophone, you can practically feel the energy before the music even begins.

Opening with a vibrantly swinging take on "The Great City," Redd and company waste no time getting down to business. Then "A Groove For Gail"—a take on "Rhythm" changes with a slick R&B-to-swing trajectory—shines just as bright, with Redd's rejoicing, di Martino's hip Fender Rhodes, Weldon's wells of emotion, and Nash's tasty interjections all lighting the way. As with much of what follows, each of these numbers benefits from the leader's luminous lines and the ensemble's attention to foundations and forward motion.

Tipping his hat to mentors and erstwhile employers along the way, Redd delivers appreciations of pianist Monty Alexander and guitarist Charlie Byrd in varied environments. On Alexander's "Renewal," the band lives up to the title as it creates music that speaks to growth cycles; with his "Regulator," things get seriously funky with Nash and Parrott delivering some real pocket playing that isn't averse to a swing detour; and on "Tide"—a reworking of Antonio Carlos Jobim's 'Wave," which Redd often played with Byrd—Redd's vibes and Parrott's wordless vocals coast along over the Brazilian undercurrent.

As much as this recording is about a shared appreciation for centered velocity in the form of compelling rhythmic streams, one of the standout moments comes in balladic form with "A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing." Redd and di Martino, sans rhythm section, dim the lights and capture the essence of beauty in less than three minutes. It's the type of performance that passes quickly yet hangs in the air. It's but one of many examples of how Chuck Redd lives atop and within a song.

Track Listing: The Great City; A Groove For Gail; Renewal; Don't Let The Sun Catch You Cryin'; Tide; Evidence; All Or Nothing At All; Regulator; A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing; Lonely Woman; Blues In The Shedd

Personnel: Chuck Redd: vibraphone, percussion, finger snaps (1, 5, 10); John di Martino: piano; Nicki Parrott: bass; Lewis Nash: drums; Jerry Weldon: tenor saxophone.

Title: Groove City | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Dalphine Records

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