is a veteran New York-based trumpet player who has worked as a sideman in a variety of genres. Now, at the age of 52, he has released his first CD as a leader and it's as stylish and professional as would be expected.
Bailey's playing is full of passion and fire, and he brings that energy to several musical styles. "Blues for Ella" is a hard bop blues, notable for the trumpeter's slashing howls, Stacy Dillard
's scouring tenor sax and guitarist John Hart
's springy support. "Children's Waltz" features Hart's elastic lines in a gentler context, mixing with the expert rhythmic shuffle of bassist Cameron Brown
and drummer Victor Lewis
, as they underscore Bailey's garrulous playing on a warm, bright melody. "Lovely Planet" is an intricate ballad line that starts with a sliding and deep bass intro. Then Bailey drifts into a gorgeous, slow theme accompanied by billowing guitar and close-harmonized soprano sax.
"My Man Louis!" crackles with funky tension as the horns shout over a stalking bass line and thick guitar chords. Dillard and Bailey get to exercise their soul chops and Lewis provides a perfect edgy beat. "Triplicity" and "Stepping Up" both sparkle like the The Jazz Messengers
, with Bailey and Dillard shooting out powerful solos over bright, up-tempo lines. The value of Hart's presence is clear here, as his slippery guitar chords give freedom to the rhythm section that a pianist may not have provided.
Bailey has spent a lot of time in the Latin jazz genre, working with Arturo O'Farrill
among others, so it's no surprise he also includes two Brazilian covers. On Milton Nascimento
's "Morro Velho," his flugelhorn glows warmly against Brown's sensitive arco bass, Hart's delicate picking and Dillard's wispy soprano sax. Meanwhile, Gilberto Gil
's "Ensaio Geral" comes out as carnival music, with Lewis stirring up an impish bossa nova groove with his brushes as Bailey, as Dillard and Hart dance joyously.
This is mature, polished music played by a seasoned crew that brings it to dazzling life. John Bailey waited a long time to record his debut as a leader but he emphatically got it right the first time.
Rhapsody; My Man Louis!; Triplicity; Lovely Planet; Blues for Ella; Morro Velho; Stepping Up; Children's Waltz; Ensaio Geral.
John Bailey: trumpet, flugelhorn; Stacy Dillard: tenor and soprano saxophone; John Hart: guitar; Cameron Brown: bass; Victor
Lewis: drums, cymbals.