For a long time, jazz musicians who played the flute as their primary instrument were fairly rare. In recent years, the number of flutists has grown tremendously including three with new albums: Jeremy Steig, Bradley Leighton and François Richard.
Flute on the Edge
Jeremy Steig has recorded somewhat sporadically as a leader since the '70s. Here, he is accompanied by bassist Cameron Brown, guitarist Vic Juris and drummer Anthony Pinciotti. Steig kicks things off with the brisk, funky original "Mr. Go, building from a repeated motif into a firestorm, simultaneously playing and humming through his instrument, a technique used throughout a good part of the session. Even better are his breezy, humorous "Felonious Funk (which showcases Juris to good effect) and the subtle ballad "People Dust. Juris switches to acoustic guitar for his wistful "Moonscape , a captivating waltz. The standards are also noteworthy. Although Eric Dolphy's haunting take of "You Don't Know What Love Is may be the top version of this ballad, Steig's lyrical, vibrato- filled interpretation has a similar sense of adventure. The infectious take of Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Samba De Offeo, though not particularly groundbreaking, will lift anyone's spirits.
Pacific Coast Jazz
Groove Yard is a generally successful fusion of bop and Brazilian music. His band includes the seasoned pianist Mike Wofford (adept at working with flutists such as wife Holly Hoffman), bassist Bob Magnusson, drummer Duncan Moore, and percussionist Allan Phillips, with arrangements by guitarist Jaime Valle. Playing alto flute on two tunes by Jobim, Leighton shares plenty of solo space with Wofford and Magnusson on the rarely heard "Mojave, though he is almost too subtle in his approach to the better known "Fotographia. Carl Perkins' title track is almost always heard in a driving hard bop setting, so Leighton's lighter Latin-flavored interpretation proves extremely refreshing. His game effort with Wes Montgomery's "Road Song is a bit derivative of late '60s soul jazz. While a somewhat brief CD at only 42 minutes, this is worth investigating.
François Richard's program on the studio date Ad Infinitum, his fifth date as a leader, is rather ambitious, offering no less than ten originals with old friends Geoff Lapp (piano), Frédéric Alarie (bass) and Michel Lambert (drums). This classically trained Canadian, who studied with Jean-Pierre Rampal, has got jazz chops to spare. Richard's fluid "Intuition is an exciting post bop vehicle full of surprising twists. The pretty samba "Rhodium, the haunting "Une Autre Histoire, and Lapp's playful "Scout Boots are also highlights. Richard switches to alto flute for the melancholy "Between Rain and Clouds and the introspective "Ad Infinitum. François Richard may be an unfamiliar name to many jazz fans from outside Canada, but he, like many fellow Canadians who record for the Effendi label, merits attentive listening.
Tracks and Personnel
Flute on the Edge
Tracks: Mr. Go; Rancho Swampo; You're My Thrill; Felonious Funk; Moonscape; Samba De Orfeo; People Dust; You Don't Know What Love Is; Elliott's Dilemma.
Personnel: Jeremy Steig: flute; Vic Juris: guitar; Cameron Brown: bass; Anthony Pinciotti: drums.
Tracks: Mojave; Groove Yard; Fotografia; Dona Maria; Bahia; Road Song.
Personnel: Bradley Leighton: flutes; Mike Wofford: piano; Bob Magnusson: bass; Duncan Moore: drums; Allan Phillips: percussion.
Tracks: Intuition; Secousse cosmique; Rhodium; Été 99; Une autre histoire; Joyeux millénaire; Apologie; Between Rain and Clouds; Scout Boots; Labyrinthe; Ad Infinitum.
Personnel: François Richard: flutes; Geoff Lapp: piano; Frédéric Alarie: bass; Michel Lambert: drums.