"Tasteful" is an appropriate word with which to describe these (mostly) trio / quartet sessions recorded during the past several years by drummer Jerry Kalaf and a number of his like-minded musical colleagues. "Swinging" would be another (indeed, track 3 is the aptly named "Swingin'," enlivened by pianist Rich Eames, bassist Dave Carpenter and Kalaf's nimble brush work). Kalaf uses five pianists and four bassists, and each of them is first-rate, with Kalaf's dependable timekeeping the glue that binds the various groups together. To modify the groove, he adds Bob Summers' muted trumpet on the gentle samba "Noche" and guitarist Mike Clinco on "Tiny's Last Tune," while pianist Doug Walter switches to soprano sax on "Never Give Up," tenor on "Common Ground." All of the tunes are Kalaf's, and none is less than pleasing, even though several aren't far removed from what is sometimes derisively referred to as "smooth" or "lite" Jazz. There are two dedications, the lyrical waltz "September 15th, 1980," which marks the passing of pianist Bill Evans, and balladic "Goodbye Old Pal" for bassist Eric von Essen. "Not a New Tune," again with Eames and Carpenter, proves a dazzling opener, with "Noche" (Theo Saunders, piano; Domenic Genova, bass) and "Swingin'" similarly sharp and stimulating. Kalaf's homage to Evans precedes "Never Give Up" (Walter, soprano; Eames, piano; Tom Warrington, bass) and "White Nights" (Rich Ruttenberg, piano; Don Kasper, bass), each of which reveals a "smooth Jazz" veneer (as do "Common Ground" and "Tiny's Last Tune"). Even so, this is for the most part lovely music, ably performed and consistently gladdening to the ear.
Contact: Sea Breeze Records, P.O. Box 1910, Pismo Beach, CA 93448-1910. Phone 818-489-2055.
Track Listing: Not a New Tune; Noche; Swingin'; September 15th, 1980 (for Bill Evans); Never Give Up; White Nights; So Long, Old Pal (for Eric von Essen); Common Ground; Tiny's Last Tune (44:58).
Personnel: Jerry Kalaf, drums; Rich Eames (1, 3, 5, 8), Theo Saunders (2, 4), Rich Ruttenberg (6), Doug Walter (7), Jeff Colella (9), piano; Walter (5, 8), soprano, tenor sax; Mike Clinco (9), guitar; Bob Summers (2), trumpet; Dave Carpenter (1, 3, 8), Domenic Genova (2, 4, 7), Don Kasper (6, 9), Tom Warrington (5), bass; Scott Breadman (2, 5), percussion.