Trombonist John Fedchock's fluid slide work, celebrated composing chops and arranger's ingenuity have been put to good use in settings both large and very small in recent years, with a big band set and two live quartet records dropping between 2015 and the present. But rather than choose one of those ensemble formats over the other this time around, he looks to a middle ground with his NY Sextet.
Painting with a three-horn frontline and rhythm section, as on his Live at the Red Sea Jazz Festival (Capri, 2010), Fedchock is able to draw on numerous colors while also keeping things compact and pliable. Opener "RSVP," an original which works the horns into hard-angled harmonies, extols the virtues of both Latin and swing settings, and features some fine soloing, makes the perfect case for the use of this sized combo. Four other Fedchock compositions surface in the mixthe shuffling "Alpha Dog," Brazilian-based "Manaus," contemplative title track and caffeinated blues closer "On The Edge"and each finds him flexing horn harmonies into beautiful pictures, riding solid grooves, and leaving plenty of space for one and all to shine. As a body of work that, for the most part, was penned in the sheltering shadows at the Yaddo artist retreat in Saratoga Springs, it points directly to the album's title and umbrella.
Three classics make up the balance of the program, but the arrangements bring the past into the now while circumventing certain expectations. "I Should Care," for example, surprises with its bright tempo and outro vamp. "Nature Boy" adopts an Afro-Latin accent and forwards a sense of intrigue in its travels. And "Star Eyes," utilizing straight-time drive, straight-up swing and rich shades and hues, shines as it also pushes forward. With tenor saxophonist Walt Weiskopf and trumpeter Scott Wendholt joining Fedchock out front, and pianist Allen Farnham, bassist David Finck and drummer Eric Halvorson right with and behind them, the level of musicianship is high all around. Everything, understandably, falls right into place on Into The Shadows.
RSVP; Alpha Dog; Manaus; I Should Care; Nature Boy; Into The Shadows; Star Eyes; On The Edge.