134

Chris Vadala: Out of the Shadows

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Chris Vadala: Out of the Shadows For me, Chris Vadala stepped "out of the shadows" the first time I heard him perform as a guest artist at an IAJE conference. "Who is this guy," I thought to myself, "and where has he been hiding?" I later learned that he had logged serious time with the Chuck Mangione Quintet, appeared on more than a hundred albums as well as film and television soundtracks, and was director of the Jazz Studies program at the University of Maryland in College Park.

What impressed me most, however, wasn't Vadala's solid resumé but his remarkable command of the horn, not to mention his free-flowing stream of credible ideas, which served him well in any context from ballad to barn-burner. All of that is on display in Out of the Shadows, recorded almost seven years ago but only now emerging fully into the light of day, along with his extraordinary versatility—at one time or another, sometimes with the aid of overdubbing, Vadala plays soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones, flute, alto flute, clarinet and bass clarinet. When it come to the reed family, there ain't much left. I presume he could play piccolo, bass sax, oboe or bassoon, and play them well, if he were asked to. If I respond most warmly to his soprano (Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood," Wayne Shorter's "Footprints"), that's simply a matter of personal taste, as nothing Vadala plays is less than admirable.

Of course, even someone as resourceful as Vadala can't do everything himself, and he is blessed to have a rhythm section that excels in camouflaging any crevasses. Pianist/organist Mark Cook, Vadala's professorial counterpart at Washington's Catholic University, is first-rate, as are bassist Pepe Gonzalez and drummer Mark Fidyk. For the record, Vadala's main ax is alto on John Nyerges' "Sambelissa," Cannonball Adderley's "Sticks" and Quincy Jones' "Quintessence," tenor on "Out of the Shadows" and "Club Contrafact," soprano on "Sentimental Mood" and "Footprints," flute on Freddie Hubbard's "Little Sunflower," alto flute on Cook's "Waltz for Chris' Kids," clarinet on "Shadows Coda." He arranged everything except "Sunflower" (Cook) and "Quintessence" (Rob McConnell). The overall sound is fairly decent, save for "Club Contrafact," on which the engineer gets carried away with the reverb, turning the recording studio into a small-scale echo chamber.

While it's true that Chris Vadala has been a rather shadowy figure, that's not entirely by choice. Perhaps this album will help shine some well-deserved light on his prodigious talents.


Track Listing: Out of the Shadows; Club Contrafact; Waltz for Chris

Personnel: Chris Vadala, soprano, alto, tenor, baritone sax, flute, alto flute, clarinet, bass clarinet; Mark Cook, keyboards; Pepe Gonzalez, bass; Steve Fidyk, drums.

Title: Out of the Shadows | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: USroots


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read BACHanalia CD/LP/Track Review BACHanalia
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Hallways CD/LP/Track Review Hallways
by Paul Rauch
Published: June 24, 2017
Read The Crave CD/LP/Track Review The Crave
by John Sharpe
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Chase The Light (Excursions in Soul, Reggae, Funk, and Dub) CD/LP/Track Review Chase The Light (Excursions in Soul, Reggae, Funk, and Dub)
by Joe Gatto
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Kickin' Child - The Lost Album 1965 CD/LP/Track Review Kickin' Child - The Lost Album 1965
by Doug Collette
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Towards Language CD/LP/Track Review Towards Language
by John Eyles
Published: June 23, 2017
Read "Split Kick - Live In Sweden 1972" CD/LP/Track Review Split Kick - Live In Sweden 1972
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: August 14, 2016
Read "Columbia Years 1968-1969" CD/LP/Track Review Columbia Years 1968-1969
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: July 4, 2016
Read "Petite Afrique" CD/LP/Track Review Petite Afrique
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 29, 2017
Read "Ante Lucem for Symphony Orchestra and Jazz Quintet" CD/LP/Track Review Ante Lucem for Symphony Orchestra and Jazz Quintet
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 3, 2016
Read "Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960" CD/LP/Track Review Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: June 1, 2017
Read "Lovers" CD/LP/Track Review Lovers
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: September 13, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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