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Bobby Lewis: In the Forefront

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The Chicago-based label Southport, has issued what could be called the ultimate trumpet album. Not only are most forms of music visited on this album, but virtually the entire trumpet family is represented - brothers, sisters and cousins. In addition to the usual cast of brass characters – B trumpet, flugelhorn and cornet–there's the piccolo trumpet, bass trumpet, E soprano trumpet and the F alto trumpet, a trumpet lover's orgy. The first disc of this two-CD album is a reissue of two 1977 LPs, Incantation and In the Forefront, while the second disc is made up of mostly previously unreleased material originally recorded in 1979. All of this is under the leadership of Chicago brassman, Bobby Lewis.

In the Forefront is a variety of contrapuntal forms, like the fugue and the invention, as well as jazz, straight or otherwise, the required Latin rhythm pieces, and trumpet voluntaries. We are also treated to 1920's and 1960's swing. With regard to the former, while the music swings, since there's no reed section, it doesn't have the feel of the syncopated swing from that era. On the 1960's piece, "It's Got That Swing" the results are a little better. It also has a bite of Miles Davis "cool" for seasoning. Jerry Coleman's drums are prominent on this cut. Cuts like the eerie "By Night" could be the soundtrack for a film noire. Some of the "classical" sounding material is similar to what the masters of cumbersome orchestration might produce, like Don Sebesky, Lalo Schifrin, Skip Martin and Dennis Farnon. But Lewis can be more imaginative in his arrangements and compositions, for which we should be grateful. Then there are cuts which can be described as "lovely". One of these, "Seasons", is on disc 2 and features the softer tone of the fluegelhorn, wordless vocalizing by Bonnie Herman and creative Rufus Reid bass. Perhaps the most unusual piece on the album is "The Innermost Desire...The Outermost Expression", a 29+ minute suite where Bobby Lewis plays all the various trumpets plus wind chimes. The other long composition, "Trumpetry" on disc 2, is a suite for 10 trumpets. But through the use of overlaying, they get by with five trumpets plus rhythm. Cy Touff's melodic bass trumpet is headlined on the last two movements, "Balladry and Fuguery".

Bobby Lewis and his talented cohorts offer much music on this album...more than two hours' worth. There's great variety both in form and tempo. To say that this represents a massive brass attack, is not an overstatement. But at the same time, the many ways the trumpet can be employed to create a wide spectrum of musical forms is fully explored. I liked this album and I recommend it, especially for those who are enthralled by the sound of the brass family.

Tracks:Disc 1. Incantation; Quartet; Wilderness; Aberrations; La Casa del Forefronte; Peregrine; Frump Trump; Reverberations; That Which Has Vanished; The Trumpet Section Suite : Knocking on the King's Door, By Night, It's Got That Swing, Another Dimension Disc 2. Fanfare; Fugue~; Seasons; No Name Jive; Deeter Dance; Casa de Suerte; Trumpetry~: Bluesry (Silver), Balladry (Gold), Fuguery (Bass); The Innermost Desire...the Outermost Expression &~: Freedom, Time, Expression, Rest, Fulfillment, Space, Naivete, Friendship, Warmth, Love, Anxiety, Sleep (~Previously unreleased)


Personnel: Bobby Lewis - Trumpet/Flugelhorn/Piccolo Trumpet/Cornet/E Flat Soprano Trumpet/ F Alto Trumpet/ Wind Chimes&; George Bean - Trumpet/ Flugelhorn/ Piccolo Trumpet/ Cornet; Art Hoyle - Trumpet/Flugelhorn/Cornet; Russ Iverson - Trumpet/ Flugelhorn/Piccolo Trumpet/Cornet; Rufus Reid - Bass; Jerry Coleman - Drums/Percussion; Bonnie Herman# - Vocals; Cy Touff* - Bass Trumpet; Larry Novak* - Piano; Steve Laspina - Bass; Rich Manners* - Conductor

Title: In the Forefront | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Southport Records

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