Studio jam sessions are still alive and well, though it sometimes takes a while for them to be issued due to economic reasons. But Steeplechase producer Nils Winther's interest in documenting spontaneous meetings of talented musicians deserves praise, demanding single takes and no rehearsals to keep the music fresh and the players on their toes. In these two sessions, both recorded in November 1998, one devoted to three trumpeters, the other to a trio of saxophonists, there is a spirit of camaraderie rather than competition as they explore originals and standards.
Ryan Kisor, John McNeil & Brad Goode Jam Session Vol. 17 SteepleChase
Trumpeters Ryan Kisor, John McNeil and Brad Goode join pianist Andy LaVerne, bassist Steve LaSpina and drummer Matt Wilson on the first session. The opener is a driving hard bop reworking of Miles Davis' "The Serpent's Tooth . A miniature ballad medley of standards provides individual solo features for each trumpeter, highlighted by Goode's excellent muted treatment of "Deep in a Dream and McNeil's sassy rendition of "Lovely (from Stephen Sondheim's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum). The remainder of the date focuses on originals by either Goode or LaVerne, with the trumpeter's "The Other Night suggesting the spirit of Tadd Dameron and LaVerne's infectious modal tune "Oddball Compliments setting the horn players' improvisational flights afire.
Dick Oatts, Billy Drewes & Walt Weiskopf
Jam Session Vol. 18
The tenor saxophonists on the second session include Dick Oatts, Billy Drewes and Walt Weiskopf, veterans who are probably better known for their work as sidemen (though Weiskopf and Oatts have each recorded a number of CDs as leaders), with pianist LaVerne again on hand, bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Adam Nussbaum. A longer interpretation of LaVerne's "Triplicate is once more a solid opening vehicle for extended blowing. The pianist's "Elusive and Reclusive initially appears to be a slinky, straight-ahead post-bop work, but it gradually evolves into a somewhat free setting, though the musicians remain in touch with one another and never resort to excess. A brief ballad medley showcases each saxophonist in turn playing a standard, though the lengthy workouts of old chestnuts like "Have You Met Miss Jones? and "You and the Night and the Music leave a more lasting impression of the date.
Both meetings in this Steeplechase Jam Session series are well worth acquiring.
Tracks and Personnel
Jam Session Vol. 17
Tracks: Triplicate; Three; Never Let Me Go; Deep in a Dream; Lovely; The Other Night; Demented Blues: Oddball Compilments; Schizocarps.
Personnel: Ryan Kisor: trumpet; John McNeil: trumpet; Brad Goode: trumpet; Andy LaVerne; Steve LaSpina: bass; Matt Wilson: drums.
Jam Session Vol. 18
Tracks: Triplicate; Elusive and Reclusive; I Should Care; The Things We Did Last Summer; Angel Eyes; Have You Met Miss Jones?; A Galant Farewell; I Love Lucidity; You and the Night and the Music.
Personnel: Dick Oatts: tenor sax; Billy Drewes: tenor sax; Walt Weiskopf: tenor sax; Andy LaVerne: piano; Jay Anderson: bass; Adam Nussbaum: drums.