Gregg August brings a diverse blend of elements to Late August, his debut recording as leader. The bassist finds a groove for Afro-Cuban music and mainstream jazz alike. While six of the nine tracks feature his sextet, he adds percussionists Ray Barretto and Wilson "Chembo Corniel on the first tune and goes in for a duet with the latter. The disc also features a quartet take with a different lineup and a solo turn. Now that the background check is over, on to the record.
There is plenty of good music on Late August. While all the musicians make individual impressions, Myron Walden and Donny McCaslin add to the dynamic with some prime inflections. The band gets off to a hot start on the Afro-Cuban "Sweet Maladie. While percussion and drums add the underlying layers of head-spinning rhythm, Alon Yavnai brings an interesting conception to his harmonization, and the swaying lines of the horns stir the pot. Another fiery swing comes with "M's Blues. August gets the adrenaline flowing, shaping changes on the bass. John Bailey scoots in on high momentum, laying down a wealth of lyrical ideas that Yavnai scoops up and takes into a melodic gallop.
The mood is quieter, but the swing is still in full flow on "Deceptions. The quartet setting is compact for this boppish outing spearheaded by Frank Wess, who balances quick changes with long catapulting notes. But some of the finest moments are defined by John Hart, his guitar loquacious and lush with emotion. At the end of it all, Gregg August stands up as a welcome new voice.
Track Listing: Sweet Maladie; Four Two K; M's Blues; Treatments in Darknesds; Los Dos Cotos; Melody in
Black and Grey; Eulogy; Deceptions; Work in Progress.
Personnel: Gregg August: bass; John Bailey: trumpet; Myron Walden: alto saxophone; Donny McCaslin:
tenor saxophone; Frank Wess: tenor saxophone; Alon Yavnai: piano; John Hart: guitar; Eric
McPhearson: drums; Ray Barretto, Wilson Corneil: congas.