If Marc Free, Nick O'Toole and the team at Posi-Tone Records continue producing albums in the same manner as they have been since the inception of the label in 1994, they will surely be further along the path to emulating the legacy of the Blue Note label, which has produced some of the finest music of our time. Little Echo
, by saxophonist, Ken Fowser and vibraphonist, Behn Gillece
, is a further testament to the label's determination to keep contemporary music in the jazz idiom alive. These young musicians are sublimely talented and have partnered with pianist Rick Germanson
, bassist Ugonna Okegwo
, and drummer Quincy Davis to produce a memorable gem of a record.
Fowser has a moist, lyrical, broad tone that lopes up and down the tenor registers like a proverbial gazelle. The young vibraphonist, mature beyond his years, is a very expressive player and possesses a bright, resonant tone. His four-mallet approach looks like Gary Burton
's and Joe Locke
's, but swings harder and is more bluesyoften leading to the belief that he has listened carefully not only to Milt Jackson
and Bobby Hutcherson
, but also to the prodigious work of Victor Feldman
. The two men swap soli with telepathy, kindling melodic fires that are fed by their astounding sense of harmonic invention. The flames of this music are fanned by the excellent Germanson's harmonic stretches, and Okegwo's rhythmic boogieing, combined with Davis' subtle rhythmic shading.
None of the music is credited on the album, but in the ultimate analysis it may not matter. Whoever was responsible for it appears to be an old soulor souls, as the case may well be. There is a fair amount of music here to suggest strong bebop roots that go back to Howard McGhee
. However, the soulful "Ninety Five" and the harmonics of "Little Echo" certainly suggest that these musicians also pay their respects to musicians like Les McCann
. "Sap" is a fine exercise in modal magic. The brooding elegance of "The Dog Days" suggests that this ensemble can also swagger languidly rather than swinging energetically all the time. Fowser is excellent and forlorn throughout the opening of the piece, and Germanson is languid and beautiful beyond belief. This is a perfect vehicle for a vibraphonist, and Gillace's sublime talent is on fine display hereas is the rhythmic invention of Quincy Davismaking the song a centerpiece to what is a marvellously crafted album.