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Will Calhoun: Live at the Blue Note

Craig Jolley By

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Percussionist Calhoun has hired most of Bobby Watson's Horizon quintet, but this session is not a case of Watson uncomfortably grimacing as a sideman in his own band. For one thing Calhoun's band has a more modern feel. As might be expected Watson is the strongest soloist, but he limits his contributions to playing, and he is careful not to steal the show. He plays tenor (instead of his usual alto) on a couple of cuts, giving the band a more classic sound. His tenor voice has less of an edge and owes something to the less extroverted pre-bop tradition.

Calhoun wrote most of the music, but Stafford, Evans, and Benitez also contributed arrangements. The tunes serve as worthy points of departure with the backgrounds of particular interest. Rhythm is Calhoun's main message, and he delivers it in a variety of flavors. His drum technique and time, reminiscent of later Tony Williams, are solid. He plays interesting rhythms, and he plays them well, but his soloing and accompanying are predictable and lick-bound at times. Unlike many other young drummers he does not overplay or indulge in pointless marathon solos.

The energy level is there with all participants bringing their 'A' games.

Track Listing: Dorita Minority Umoja Fe-Fi-Fo-Fum Dawn of the Great Eastern Sun Africa's Afternoon Drum Hymn for Ana Marie Shorter Dolphin Dance

Personnel: Will Calhoun - drums, percussion. Bobby Watson - alto, tenor. Terrell Stafford - trumpet. Orrin Evans - piano, keyboard. John Benitez - bass, electric bass.

Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Half Note Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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