Panorama is a testament that straight-ahead jazz can still thrive in modern times. Drummer/composer Towner Galaher, an astute leader and sideman who has performed with names like Wynton Marsalis and in ensembles such as Chico O'Farrill's Afro-Cuban Jazz Big Band, carries the torch of jazz drummers like Art Blakey.
Galaher's playing is more than solid, yet unselfishly he draws attention not to himself but to the music and a very tight band with proven stalwarts bassist Charles Fambrough and pianist Onaje Allen Gumbs, plus two fiery young guns, trumpeter Maurice Brown and saxophonist Mark Shim. Galaher leads the band on five originals and three standards, delivering music that swings and entertains.
The heat goes up on the Latin-tinged "Have You Met Miss Jones?, cooked with spicy solos and flavored with heavy percussion. A slower but pleasant mood moves "I'm All Smiles with a sax and trumpet harmony. "Legba, a New Orleans jazz funk peice, is a blast: the drums and piano put down a nasty groove.
The title piece, "Panorama, is straight bop in all its glory, and Fambrough's bass walks up and down the rapid melody. Another memorable tune is the unique arrangement of bassist Charles Mingus' "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat, which opens with a conversation between Fambrough's arco bass and Maurice Brown's muted trumpet. Shim's throaty tenor sings the unforgettable melody, unfolding a path for a soulfully delicate solo by Gumbs.
To hear one of today's most distinctive tenor sax voices in action, check out Shim's solo on "Charisma, a tune that echoes the voices of the '50s and '60s modal impressions. It still sounds good today when Galaher reinterprets the music his way on Panorama.
Have You Met Miss Jones?;
I'm All Smiles;
Goodbye Pork Pie Hat;
East 104th St.
Towner Galaher: drums;
Onaje Allan Gumbs: piano;
Charles Fambrough: bass;
Mark Shim: tenor sax;
Maurice Brown: trumpet;
Johnny Almendra, Frank Colon: percussion.