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Lonnie Plaxico: Melange

Jim Santella By

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Experience has taught Lonnie Plaxico that a tenor saxophone and trumpet front line works best. His 6th recording as a leader combines straight-ahead, modern mainstream, and Tower Of Power funk. At 40, the bassist has paused to reflect on which jazz styles are meaningful; his session includes variety with significance. Plaxico writes out the arrangements in detail. As musical director for Cassandra Wilson's touring band, he's aware of what works. That professional relationship began in 1987. Prior to that, Plaxico was with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers for three years. He's learned the ropes. The middle child in a family of musicians, Lonnie Plaxico turned professional at age 14, working with his family's band.

Melange features the bassist's working group, along with guests Lew Soloff and Tim Ries. The program's variety runs from gospel to funk and hot Latin jazz. Trumpet and saxophone split the improvised solo responsibility, while piano, bass and drums stretch out some. "Beloved," a tender mainstream ballad, includes a sensitive bowed bass interlude. "Windy City" takes us to Plaxico's native Chicago, where he interned with Von Freeman. "Darkness" and "Miles II" emphasize pure tone and graceful harmony, while "Short Takes" heats up like a band on fire. Plaxico's Blue Note debut hits the label's mark for fresh sounds, while holding to its tradition of providing the best jazz has to offer.


Track Listing: 1. Squib Cakes (4:43) 2. Melange (4:58) 3. Darkness (5:11) 4. Short Takes (7:20) 5. Miles II (5:29) 6. Paella (5:42) 7. Sunday Morning (5:31) 8. Beloved (5:35) 9. T.O.P. (6:37) 10. Patois (4:58) 11. Windy City (4:47)

Personnel: Lonnie Plaxico- Bass, Lew Soloff- Trumpet (tracks 1-5), Jeremy Pelt- trumpet (tracks 6-11). Tim Ries- Saxophone (tracks 1-5), Marcus Strickland- Saxophone (tracks 6-11) George Colligan- piano, keyboards (except #5), Helen Sung- piano, keyboards (#2, 5, 6), Lionel Cordew- drums, Jeffrey Haynes- percussion.

Title: Melange | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Blue Note Records


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