Leave it to Luther
by the Luther Thomas Quartet and The Pilgrimage
by the Andrew Lamb Trio, feature the talents of two saxophonists: Thomas and Lamb, respectively. Thomas, who plays alto, has recorded three previous CDs for CIMP and his latest is an appealing combination of original compositions by Hugh Steinmetz and bassist Brian Smith as well as jazz standards.
Leave it to Luther
The quartet, which includes Ethan Mann on guitar, Smith on bass and Clifford Barbaro on drums, is capable of many moods. Their renditions of "Body and Soul," "Groovin' High" and "'Round Midnight" are completely contemporary while staying true to the original spirit of the songs. "Body and Soul" is a nice duo between Thomas and Mann; The leader is an inspired lyrical player, sweet and melodic, yet he readily catches fire in his solos. "'Round Midnight" is also notable, with Thomas capturing the song's poignancy and Mann adding delicate shades of color throughout.
Of the original compositions, "Belona" is particularly winning. The melody is lighthearted and swinging and Thomas' playing fresh and joyful. Again Mann deserves mention; his guitar is sonorous and vibrant and he clearly enjoys his interplay with Thomas. Another great cut is "Up South," a high energy tune with a bluesy feel. Then there's "Leave it to Luther," where Thomas lets loose with furious, explosive lines. The CD's method of blending something old with something new generates positive heat, with Thomas' impassioned blowing and sense of adventure propelling the music forward.
The Pilgrimage is an aural feast, ten songs composed by Andrew Lamb, a tenor saxophonist with a lot to say and the talent to convey it. The trio is a strong group; bassist Tom Abbs has played with Lamb for over two years and drummer Andrei Strobert has been on the scene for many years, including work with Makanda Ken McIntyre and Abdullah Ibrahim.
Lamb is a strong composer and the material is uniformly excellent. Highlights include the opening cut "Ludicrous Ridiculous," the players jumping in with full energy. Lamb lets loose with vigor and imagination and Abbs is excellent, providing propulsion and passion. Another great song is "Circus Avenue," Lamb's depiction of Nantucket Island's nightlife which turns plain old Circuit Avenue into Circus Avenue. Lamb captures the energy as well as the boiling chaos of youth at night. The rest of the songs explore everything from love to the spiritual journey. Altogether the CD is an exciting flowering of sound from a gifted composer and trio.
Leave it the Luther
Tracks: 1. Leave it to Luther 2. Belona 3. Tatjana 4. Body and Soul 5. Groovin' High 6. Luther's Theme 7. Nova Zembla 8. Up South
Personnel: Luther Thomas - alto sax; Ethan Mann - guitar; Brian Smith - bass; Cliff Barbaro - drums
Tracks: 1. Ludicrous Ridiculous 2. The Adventures of a Trained Brush 3. Voices of the Voiceless 5. Contractions 6. Mask of the Black Lamb 7. Circus Avenue 8. I Dream of a Love Song 9. Harvest of Sorts 10. Transition A1
Personnel: Andrew Lamb - tenor saxophone, mismaar; Tom Abbs - bass, tuba; Andrei Strobert - drums