83

The Kerry Strayer Septet: Mentor

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
The Kerry Strayer Septet: Mentor It takes years to learn to play jazz as well as Kerry Strayer does, and one always needs a mentor —perhaps several—to help him (or her) reach such a lofty plateau. Gary Foster, among the West Coast’s best and busiest reed masters, is one of Kansas City-based composer/arranger/saxophonist Strayer’s most influential teachers, and it is Foster to whom Kerry has dedicated his third album as leader, one on which the honoree plays a pivotal role.

Not only does Foster star on alto and tenor saxophones, flute and clarinet, he also wrote three of the album’s most delightful tunes, “Saturday 10 AM,” “Sweet Lips” and “Warne-ing” (the last for one of Foster’s mentors, the late great tenor saxophonist Warne Marsh). The arrangements are by Strayer, who knows how to make a septet sound kaleidoscopic and irresistible. Besides his usual baritone sax, Strayer plays lustrous soprano on Jimmy Rowles’ “The Peacocks“ and in a number of ensemble passages. He and Foster are bolstered on the front line by a pair of seasoned pros, trumpeter Barry Springer and trombonist Earlie Braggs, and backed by a blue-chip rhythm section comprised of bassist Bob Bowman, drummer Todd Strait and (it pains me to write this) the late Frank Mantooth on piano. Gary Helm adds percussion on two rhythmic treasures, Clare Fischer’s “Gaviota” and David Torres’ “Siempre Me Va Bien.”

Foster, one of whose trademarks is versatility, is showcased on alto (“10 AM,” “Siempre Me Va Bien,” Alan Broadbent’s “Don’t Ask Why,” Charlie Parker’s “Yardbird Suite,” Ray Noble’s “I Hadn’t Anyone Till You”), tenor (“Warne-ing”), clarinet (“Sweet Lips,” Dave Brubeck’s “In Your Own Sweet Way”) and flute (“Gaviota,” Billy Strayhorn’s “A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing”). Foster is a brilliant soloist—his gossamer alto prompts memories of Paul Desmond—but so is everyone else in Strayer’s superb ensemble. Mantooth is especially prismatic, whether comping or soloing, reminding us of what a great loss the jazz world suffered when he succumbed to a heart attack in January at age fifty-six. Braggs crafts a number of impressive solos, especially on “Yardbird Suite,” as do Springer, Bowman and Strait. As for Strayer, he’s technically precise, sonically pleasing and always persuasive.

This is the kind of pleasurable music one should expect when seven earnest and talented musicians join forces, and Mentor never once lets its audience down. More than an hour of high-caliber straight-ahead jazz that is easily recommended.


Track Listing: Saturday 10 AM; Gaviota; A Flower is a Lovesome Thing; Sweet Lips; Siempre Me Va Bien; Don

Personnel: Kerry Strayer- baritone saxophone, soprano saxophone on

Title: Mentor | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Kerry Strayer Productions


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles

More Articles

Read Screen Sounds CD/LP/Track Review Screen Sounds
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 20, 2017
Read Rediscovered Ellington CD/LP/Track Review Rediscovered Ellington
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 20, 2017
Read The Bug CD/LP/Track Review The Bug
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 20, 2017
Read Sing Me Some Cry CD/LP/Track Review Sing Me Some Cry
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 20, 2017
Read Masters In Bordeaux CD/LP/Track Review Masters In Bordeaux
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 19, 2017
Read On Parade In Parede CD/LP/Track Review On Parade In Parede
by John Sharpe
Published: August 19, 2017
Read "Currents 0" CD/LP/Track Review Currents 0
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 18, 2017
Read "The Duke Box 2" CD/LP/Track Review The Duke Box 2
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 14, 2016
Read "Cómo Desaparecer Completamente (How to Disappear Completely)" CD/LP/Track Review Cómo Desaparecer Completamente (How to Disappear...
by Troy Dostert
Published: November 11, 2016
Read "Tales & Tones" CD/LP/Track Review Tales & Tones
by Geannine Reid
Published: January 21, 2017
Read "Bach: Solo Works for Marimba" CD/LP/Track Review Bach: Solo Works for Marimba
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 15, 2017
Read "Constant Change 1976-2016" CD/LP/Track Review Constant Change 1976-2016
by John Sharpe
Published: July 19, 2017

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.