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Bill Carrothers: Joy Spring

Dan Bilawsky By

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Tribute albums often come in the form of imitative musical gestures from musicians of a like-instrument—such as a saxophonist paying tribute to John Coltrane by trying to copy his style or specific mannerisms. But pianist Bill Carrothers has crafted a different type of homage with Joy Spring, using the piano trio format to flesh out some malleable constructions of songs associated with trumpeter Clifford Brown.

Five Brown tunes and four songs by pianist Richie Powell—who performed with the trumpeter and was killed in the same car wreck that ended Brown's life—make up the bulk of this album. Pianist Duke Jordan's "Jordu" and Victor Young's "Delilah"—two pieces that Brown performed—and Benny Golson's "I Remember Clifford" help to create a well-rounded examination of the repertory legacy surrounding one of jazz's greatest trumpeters.

Carrothers is joined by drummer Bill Stewart and bassist Drew Gress for this 12-song program. All three musicians are able to use their flexible musical minds and muscles to create something new with each one of these pieces, yet they still maintain respect for each song's core essence. The title track lacks the effervescence that one might expect and is transformed into a somber, staid piano feature.

Powell's "Time" is another song that slowly drifts along with a sad elegance. This particular track begins with a freely played bass introduction, allowing Gress to create time at will. While Carrothers clearly demonstrates how to craft introverted musical explorations, he also knows how to really cut loose. Carrothers and Stewart have fun poking back and forth at each other during "Gerkin for Perkin," and both men are also on fire during the energetic trip through "Powell's Prances."

"Delilah" conjures images of a camel ride through the desert, on the way to exotic and far-off lands. Carrothers doesn't stray too far from the familiar melody— complete with wonderful tremolo sounds—and Gress gets to go further out on this one. Dissonant chordal clusters are used to establish a foundation for "Jordu" and, after laying out the melody, Carrothers eventually ratchets up the intensity and excitement levels a bit.

"I Remember Clifford" takes a little while to coalesce, but it's worth the wait. While some slightly darker hues make their way into this take, it serves the music well and—like all of the rest of the material here—pays tribute to Clifford Brown in its own way.

Track Listing: Junior's Arrival; Joy Spring; Jacqui; Gerkin for Perkin; Delilah; Gertrude's Bounce; Jordu; Daahoud; Time; Powell's Prances; Tiny Capers; I Remember Clifford.

Personnel: Bill Carrothers: piano; Drew Gress: bass; Bill Stewart: drums.

Title: Joy Spring | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Pirouet Records

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