All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

124

Luther Thomas Quartet: Leave it to Luther

Rex  Butters By

Sign in to view read count
Leave it to Luther continues veteran alto saxophonist Luther Thomas’ fruitful association with CIMP. The label’s trademark living presence sound accentuates the tart and sweet sounds of Thomas and guitarist Ethan Mann, respectively, and catches every breath of Cliff Barbaro’s quicksilver cymbal work. Brian Smith’s basslines lurk and lead. As the band veers from free to swing and back, Smith’s playing defines the changes.

On the title track, Barbaro plays an uncannily melodic percussion intro before the band enters on Smith’s questioning theme. Thomas finds a tremendous amount to say and proceeds to fill in the sparse landscape. Mann plays clear crisp notes and chords that accompany and coax. Not that Thomas needs coaxing. He blisters through an extended solo, his smearing note clusters contrasted with Mann’s uncluttered considerations. Brian Smith keeps quick time while creating musical wonders. Barbaro stays in the cymbals letting Smith drive the band. After a brief pause the band snaps into a breezy cosmopolitan riff, out of which Luther creates an elaborate travelogue.

The band then takes on the first of three compositions by Danish composer/musician Hugh Steinmetz. “Belona” has a tight ensemble straight-ahead bop feel, with Thomas taking his time before he vaults through the measures. Thomas and Mann play the ballad “Tatjana” in unison until Thomas flies over the wall. Mann continues the thread of the ballad as the other three switch gears. After a brisk run, Thomas hits the brake and the ensemble returns to the moody theme.

The quartet makes three inspired classic cover choices, beginning with “Body and Soul.” Luther solos an intro then affectionately teases the theme as he beautifully duets with Mann. They play Dizzy’s “Groovin’ High” straight, with Thomas negotiating an authentic be-bop tangle of notes solo. Mann keeps it open and roomy, while Smith seems at home in the groove.

Smith’s “Luther’s Theme” begins an easy going amphorus drift before coalescing into a whirlwind of activity. Thomas’ solo gains in speed and intensity, then settles back down until Smith kicks it from below with an enthusiastic bass run. Steinmetz’ “Nova Zembla” abandons the bop pretense of the earlier pieces, giving Thomas explosive leeway.

Thomas’ “Up South” takes a slightly broken up-tempo bop blues and swings it hard. The quartet sizzles on this sweaty workout. Monk’s “Round Midnight” caps the session. Without Barbaro, the trio plays the chestnut somewhat out of phase, but with reverence.

Leave It to Luther shows the Luther Thomas Quartet fluent in all aspects of jazz music, and adept at weaving them all into a single piece organically.


Track Listing: Leave it to Luther; Belona; Tatjana; Body and Soul; Groovin

Personnel: Luther Thomas, alto sax; Ethan Mann, guitar; Brian Smith, bass; Cliff Barbaro, drums.

Title: Leave it to Luther | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: CIMP Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

What Is This Thing Called Love?

What Is This Thing Called Love?

Luther Thomas
Busking in Christiania

Extended Analysis
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
 

Spiritual Machine

Contemporary Records
2007

buy
 

The Rap

Contemporary Records
2005

buy
 

Outcry

Contemporary Records
2004

buy
 

Leave it to Luther

CIMP Records
2004

buy
Leave it to Luther

Leave it to Luther

CIMP Records
2003

buy

Related Articles

Read 9 CD/LP/Track Review
9
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 19, 2018
Read For Gyumri CD/LP/Track Review
For Gyumri
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: February 19, 2018
Read Sextet (Parker) 1993 CD/LP/Track Review
Sextet (Parker) 1993
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 19, 2018
Read Esperanto/Toca Antonio Carlos Jobim CD/LP/Track Review
Esperanto/Toca Antonio Carlos Jobim
by Kevin Press
Published: February 19, 2018
Read Orientation CD/LP/Track Review
Orientation
by Troy Dostert
Published: February 18, 2018
Read Romaria CD/LP/Track Review
Romaria
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 18, 2018
Read "Sinatra & Jobim @ 50" CD/LP/Track Review Sinatra & Jobim @ 50
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: August 30, 2017
Read "The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Wrath" CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Wrath
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 6, 2018
Read "Highsmith" CD/LP/Track Review Highsmith
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 7, 2017
Read "Let There Be Life, Love and Laughter" CD/LP/Track Review Let There Be Life, Love and Laughter
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: August 21, 2017
Read "For Gyumri" CD/LP/Track Review For Gyumri
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: February 19, 2018
Read "Sonic Fiction" CD/LP/Track Review Sonic Fiction
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 4, 2018