After easing past the words of praise for San Francisco Bay-area based saxophonist / educator Richard Howell
's "spiritual connection" and the description of his work as "bridge music," uniting and merging the experiences of listeners, it sounds much like probative contemporary small-group jazz. Besides playing saxophone (and singing, on the soulful anthem "We Are All Connected"), Howell composed (and presumably arranged) every number on Moon Over Tiburon,
a cerebral exercise that is heavy on group interplay and strong, close-knit rhythm, a measure or so lighter on improvisation.
There is, however, ample room for blowing on the album's most animated selection, listed on the jacket as "Try Not Yo Dance," which may or may not be a typo ("Try Not to
Dance"?). Nice solos there by Howell on tenor, trombonist Jasim Perales
and pianist Frederick Harris
. "Sing the Song of Samba Sock," which follows, is rhythmically strong, with engaging ad libs by Howell, bassist Gary Brown
, pianist Harris, trombonist Perales, and yeoman work from the rhythm section: Brown, Harris, drummer Ele Salif Howell
, percussionist David Frazier
. Perales and Howell have lengthy solos on the long-running finale, "The Adventure," with Brown and Salif Howell providing resolute support and appending impressive statements of their own.
Muscular rhythm predominates on the curtain-raising "Like-Share," a stalwart model of group-think, as it does on "Living with Truth Decay" and the more laid-back "Moon Over Tiburon," on which Howell solos for the first time. The entreaty "We Are All Connected" is basically a "message" song, exhorting the people of the world to blend together, as "we are not free until we all are free." It makes the point early, then repeats it until even the most unenlightened listener should grasp its meaning. Howell's themes are astute and well-meaning, the musicianship high, and Moon Over Tiburon
should please anyone whose taste runs to rhythmically sharp and vibrant contemporary jazz.
David Frazier: percussion.