Jazz @ Six is a six–member co–op group comprised of faculty members at the University of Nevada–Las Vegas. These are teachers who can — play, that is — an opinion that even the most casual survey of Out of the Blue
quickly affirms. Pianist Stefan Karlsson, UNLV’s director of Jazz Studies, is present on every track, as are bassist Tom Warrington and drummer John Abraham, with the others — trumpeter Rocky Winslow, tenor saxophonist Marc Solis, guitarist Joe Lano — shuffling in and out as needed. To underscore the album’s theme of partnership, the cover photo depicts skydivers holding hands. Trouble is, there are seven parachutists in the photo, not six. Perhaps a septet session was planned but one of them lost his grip? Well, no matter; the six who landed safely have produced an admirable session with an abundance of rewarding moments. The program consists of two originals each by Lano (“Lodestone,” “Fairweather Friend”) and Winslow (“Tango for Lord Weymms,” “Parlez–vous le Française?”), Solis’s “Out of the Blue,” Bob Mintzer’s “Re–Re,” John Scofield’s “Eisenhower,” Henry Mancini’s “Two for the Road” and Willard Robinson’s standard, “Old Folks.” Lano presides over the rhythm section on “Two for the Road,” Karlsson does the same on “Old Folks.” The frisky “Lodestone” grabs one’s attention from the outset, as do the probing solos by Winslow, Solis, Karlsson and Lano. Abraham, a shrewd and tasteful drummer, nimbly brushes aside any complaints on “Re–Re” while Karlsson weighs in with another in a series of impressive solos. The trio is spellbinding on “Old Folks,” Lano and Solis plain–spoken on “Eisenhower” (with typically strong support from Karlsson, Warrington and Abraham). The guitar / bass partnership is sublime on the lovely “Two for the Road,” which leads to the chops–testing finale, “Parlez–vous” (based on Cole Porter’s “What Is This Thing Called Love?”), whose boppish theme is punctuated by crackling solos from Winslow, Karlsson, Solis, Lano and Abraham. A hands–on lesson in the fine art of close–knit Jazz that earns high marks for planning and performance.
Contact: TNC Jazz, 1350 E. Flamingo Road, Las Vegas, NV 89119. Phone 702–457–3823; fax 702–457–0199. Web site, www.tncmusic.net; e–mail firstname.lastname@example.org