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Pointing Fingers... And Naming Names

Jack Bowers By

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As the countdown continues toward the last Big Band Report in June, the time has come to point fingers and name names—in other words, to compile a short list of contemporary jazz musicians who have risen above the norm to help make life more pleasurable for one devoted listener. These are, mind you, personal choices, and the list is far from inclusive; while some of the names may be new to you, rest assured they have earned their places. You may notice that no guitarists or bassists are named, and there's a reason for that: most of them sound about the same to me, and so there is no one who warrants special praise. Blasphemous, perhaps (especially for someone who writes about jazz), but there you have it. As long as a guitarist or bassist does his (or her) job (as most of them do) and paves the way for others to do theirs, I'm happy. Having said that, let's get down to business, looking first at an indispensable component in any big band, the trumpet section.

Starting from the west and moving eastward, there are more than a few trumpet stars on the Left Coast who can do it all: lead a section, solo with assurance or simply blend in as part of a well-oiled team. Two that stand out are Carl Saunders and Wayne Bergeron, whose breathtaking solos often veer into the realm of the incredible. Many's the time I've listened to Saunders solo while thinking to myself, "Seeing is believing, so I know he must be doing that but as it's really beyond the capability of any human being, perhaps it's my imagination playing tricks." And this from someone who saw and heard Dizzy Gillespie and even Clifford Brown in their prime and has listened in awe to the Spanish master, Rafael Mendez. Saunders' solos might best be described as mind-boggling, Bergeron's as exercises in sheer power and elasticity. And when it comes to solos that are models of eloquence and consistency, few trumpeters anywhere can surpass Bob Summers, another "anonymous" West Coast standout.

As it turns out, Summers does have an equal right here in the Southwest. I am referring of course to everyone's favorite mentor and role model, the great Bobby Shew, who bows to no one when it comes to over-all trumpet artistry, from lead players to soloists. Neither does Rob Parton, one of the best in the Midwest, who can stand his ground with almost any marksman this side of Maynard Ferguson when it comes to playing lead or soloing. Maynard, of course, continues to be the gold standard, and anyone who says otherwise is either stretching the truth or hasn't been listening closely. As for solos, the Midwest boasts another luminary in the underrated Art Davis. Moving on to the East Coast, nothing would be amiss with either Jim Ward or Dave Stahl in the lead trumpet chair, while Marvin Stamm could handle the solo work with ease, as could Brazilian expat Claudio Roditi.

Which brings us to the trombones. The West Coast is loaded with blue-chip players, from Andy Martin and Scott Whitfield to Bob McChesney, Bill Watrous and Charlie Loper, to name only a handful. The Midwest has Tom Garling, Paul McKee and Tom Matta, the East Coast, John Fedchock and Brian Pastor, among others. Several of the trombonists double as world-class composers, arrangers and bandleaders who have recorded topnotch albums with their names on the marquee. Pastor's CD, Uncommon Men, is especially rewarding.

Turning to the woodwind section, altos Lanny Morgan (who recently turned seventy-nine) and Rusty Higgins are among the West Coast's finest, while Phil Woods continues to reign on the East Coast at age eighty-one. Here in New Mexico, another octogenarian, Arlen Asher, has been shining his light on Santa Fe and Albuquerque for close to sixty years. Asher, a true virtuoso, is a master of every woodwind instrument from piccolo to bass saxophone and beyond. And here in Albuquerque, we have another excellent lead alto / soloist in Glenn Kostur. Turning eastward again, drummer Sherrie Maricle's all-female big band, DIVA, boasts a pair of superb alto soloists in Erica von Kleist and Sharel Cassity, and until recently housed another one, Anat Cohen, whose resume has blossomed since she left the band to build a career of her own. Another DIVA alum, Liesl Whitaker, who is currently with the U.S. Army Blues, should have been mentioned among the best lead trumpeters (along with Brian MacDonald of the Airmen of Note), so we'll do that now.

Tenor saxophone offers some of the clearest choices, as I have unequivocal favorites on the West Coast (Pete Christlieb), in the Midwest (Mark Colby) and on the East Coast (Eric Alexander). That's not to say there aren't many other able contenders, from Jimmy Heath and Grant Stewart to Larry McKenna, Bob Mintzer, Scott Hamilton, Don Menza and Tony Vacca (perhaps the least known among them, as he makes his home in Phoenix, AZ). Moving further down the scale, young lions Adam Schroeder and Jennifer Hall have stepped forward to help fill the gaping void left by the passing in June 2009 of West Coast baritone giant Jack Nimitz, while the veteran Bob Efford keeps soldiering on at age eighty-five. In the Midwest, Ted Hogarth helps keep the memory of Gerry Mulligan alive, and on the East Coast Claire Daly (another DIVA alum) regularly places high, and rightly so, in reader and critics polls. Stan Weiss, another marvelous player who flies well under the radar, enriches the Ed Vezinho / Jim Ward Big Band with his lithe and buoyant solos.

Naturally, brass and reeds would be undone without a rhythm section, and that includes piano and drums (the basses were dealt with earlier). Singling out pianists has become a tricky business, as most of my personal favorites are no longer with us, while those who are left aren't as active as they once were. Ahmad Jamal (eighty-two) is still around, as are Barry Harris (eighty-three), Cedar Walton (seventy-nine), Horace Silver (eighty-four) and Canada's Oliver Jones (seventy-eight) but Oscar Peterson, Hank Jones, Tommy Flanagan, Pete Jolly, Russ Freeman, Claude Williamson and so many others are gone. Among those who remain, Kenny Barron is certainly a standout, and I've always been partial to Maynard Ferguson's son-in-law, Christian Jacob. Other names that spring to mind include Harold Mabern, Mike LeDonne, Tom Ranier, David Hazeltine and Mike Longo. I'm sure there are many others, but as I said, this is a short list. And while there may be no drum titans such as Rich, Bellson, Krupa, Manne, Webb, Catlett, Blakey, Roach, Morello or Lewis on the scene, some splendid timekeepers are still plying their trade including Jimmy Cobb, Roy Haynes (age eighty-eight), Lewis Nash, Peter Erskine, Frank Capp, Jeff Hamilton, Billy Higgins, Kenny Washington, Carl Allen, Billy Hart, Dennis Mackrel, Joe LaBarbera and DIVA's Maricle. We'll have to make do with them.

By now you may have noticed that save for Oliver Jones, these musicians have at least one thing in common: they are all Americans. Does that imply there are no world-class musicians overseas? Not at all. What it means is the list is so long I'd have to write another column to encompass all the names that belong there. Such a list would have to include trumpeters Eric Miyashiro, Peter Asplund, Bert Joris, John MacLeod and Ack Van Rooyen; saxophonists Paquito D'Rivera, Ferdinand Povel, Igor Butman, Alan Barnes, John Williams and Michael Lutzeier; trombonists Mark Nightingale, Ian McDougall, Svatopluk Kosvanec and Robert Bachner; pianists Jan Lundgren, Makoto Ozone, Don Thompson, Junko Moriya and Peter Beets, and a large number of blue-chip drummers (not to mention guitarists such as Canadian standouts Ed Bickert and Lorne Lofsky). And we've not even mentioned composers, arrangers or the world's resident musical genius, Australia's James Morrison, who plays almost every instrument known to mankind about as well as anyone you'd care to name. In fact, two of the finest musicians I've ever heard (aside from Morrison, who is in a class by himself) were born and played overseas: baritone saxophonist Lars Gullin (Sweden) and tenor Tubby Hayes (Great Britain).

As for big bands, in spite of their always-imminent demise there are a large number of superlative ensembles on the scene both here and abroad, some led by names already mentioned, others by the likes of Bill Holman, Tom Kubis, Mike Barone, (trumpeter) Ray Brown, Kenichi Tsunoda, Michael Treni, Gordon Goodwin, Maria Schneider, Bob Curnow, Jon Altman, Gary Urwin, Jack Cortner, George Stone, Rodger Fox, Steve Owen, Cecilia Coleman and Vaughn Wiester, as well as DIVA, the Metropole Orchestra, No Name Horses, the SWR and SDR Big Bands, the Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw, Britain's Midland, Wigan and National Youth Jazz Orchestras (and Fat Chops Big Band), Germany's BuJazzO, topnotch regional ensembles in Dallas, Columbus, Chicago, Denver and elsewhere, and big bands on almost every decent-size college campus in the U.S. and Canada. Mind you, that's off the top of my head. Even with its many trials and tribulations (including an aging and ever-shrinking audience), the immediate future of contemporary jazz appears to be bright and strong.

The Jazz Hall of Fame

Jazz at Lincoln Center announced in April the induction of Art Blakey, Lionel Hampton and Clark Terry into the Nesuhi Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame. The three will be honored in a ceremony June 4 at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola at JALC in New York City. This year's nominees were chosen by a committee of scholars and musicians and voted on by jazz fans around the world. The committee was comprised of Ed Berger, Bill Charlap, Connie Crothers, Stanley Crouch, Jon Faddis, Vince Giordano, Wynton Marsalis, Dianne Reeves, Phil Schaap, Loren Schoenberg and Spike Wilner. Blakey and Hampton will be inducted posthumously; it is unlikely that Terry, who has lost both legs to diabetes, will be able to attend the ceremony. To date, Jazz at Lincoln Center has inducted forty-one members into the NEJHF.

Marking Woody's Centenary

On May 16, the one hundredth anniversary of Woody Herman's birth, the Pecos River Brass Band directed by John C. Smith will present a memorial concert at the Irving (TX) Fine Arts Center with guest trombonist Phil Wilson who has written a suite for Woody that the band will perform. For information, e-mail [email protected] or go online to www.pecosriverbrass.com/band

Big-Band Jazz Camps

There's a nice two-page article in the March '13 issue of the Jazz Education Network's JAZZed magazine about bassist Jim Widner's Stan Kenton-style jazz camps, which Widner and his big band have been hosting on college campuses for twenty-five years. Widner, a founding member of JEN, is director of Jazz Studies at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He was a member of the Kenton orchestra when it established the first Stan Kenton Band Clinic in 1967 at Redlands and San Diego State universities in California, and formed his own band in 1988 to carry on Kenton's work with students. To mark the twenty-fifth anniversary, Widner's ensemble has released a new CD, The Beat Goes On.

Recent Big-Band Releases

The Dave Lalama Big Band
The Hofstra Project
Self Published
2013

If Dave Lalama's name rings a bell, it could be because his brother, Ralph, is a top-rank tenor saxophonist in New York City and longtime member of the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra who has recorded often with jazz luminaries at home and abroad. While Dave, a composer / pianist, has kept a somewhat lower profile, he hasn't fared poorly either, having performed, recorded and arranged for the likes of Woody Herman, Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, Woody Shaw, Bobby Watson, Mike Stern and others while carving a niche in academia as associate chair of the Music Department at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY, and as a teacher of composing and arranging at the Manhattan School of Music. For his first album as leader of a big band, Lalama chose to honor the many musical and personal relationships that have shaped his professional and personal life by assembling a number of alumni, faculty members and guest artists (including brother Ralph) to produce The Hofstra Project, featuring half a dozen compositions and all arrangements by the leader.

After listening, the inescapable conclusion is that Hofstra is fortunate to have someone of Lalama's remarkable talent on the faculty (as well as lead trumpeter Leon Petruzzi, bassist Pete Coco and drummer Tony Tedesco, all of whom are members of the band). Joining them are former faculty members Dave Pietro on alto sax and Jeff Lange on baritone, alumni John Marshall (tenor sax), Mike Rubenstein (trumpet), Justin Comito (bass trombone) and (we presume) undergrad Brent Chiarello (trombone). Besides Ralph Lalama, the "guests" (that is to say, those not named in the liner notes as faculty or alumni) include trumpeters Glenn Drewes, Nathan Warner and Mike Carubia; trombonists John Mosca and Joey Devassy, and alto Jonathan Holford, some of whom may be faculty members, alumni or both.

On to the music, starting with Dave's Thad Jones / Mel Lewis-style flag-waver, "Full House," which showcases, in order, saxophonists Lange, Holford, Marshall and Ralph Lalama at their blazing best. Jimmy McHugh's ballad "Where Are You" is recast into a bright samba whose soloists are Mosca, Carubia (flugel), Pietro (soprano) and Dave Lalama. Sandwiched between Dave's second composition, "No Evidence" (a fusion of the standard "There Is No Greater Love" and Thelonious Monk's "Evidence") and his third, the sunny calypso "St. Thelonious," are time-honored classics by Charles Mingus ("Duke Ellington's Sound of Love"), Joe Henderson ("Inner Urge"), Sonny Rollins ("Pent-Up House") and James Moody ("Moody's Mood for Love," on which brass and winds swap graceful solis). Oscar Pettiford's buoyant "Tricotism," a vehicle for bassist Coco (and the trombone section), is dedicated to the memory of Coco's teacher at Hofstra, the late Robert Bowen III, while the mercurial "The Song Isn't You" was written by Dave Lalama for the Buddy Rich Band as a showpiece for brother Ralph and trumpeter Drewes who step forward to reprise their original starring roles.

Lange's lyrical baritone is front and center on Jimmy Rowles' ballad "The Peacocks," Chiarello's supple trombone and Pietro's burnished alto on Lalama's groovy "Blues For . . ." The session ends on a salutary note with Lalama's picturesque "Evansville," a ""bonus track" earmarked as an "expression of gratitude" to Bill Evans on which Dave's shimmering piano is the focal point. It's a splendid way to wrap up a superlative album, one that pleases from start to finish, thanks to Dave Lalama, the Hofstra faculty and alumni, and their invited guests (not least brother Ralph).

Joe Clark Big Band
Lush
Jazzed Media
2013

Add Joe Clark's name to a growing line-up of bandleaders who are enlivening the music scene in Chicago that already includes Rob Parton, Orbert Davis, Tom Matta, Bill O'Connell, Ted Hogarth, Bob Lark and Dick Reynolds (whose new album is reviewed below). DePaul University alumnus Clark's debut recording is further enhanced by the presence of guest artist Jeff Hamilton at the drum set, a clear-cut advantage for any band.

Clark, who also plays trumpet (and solos persuasively on the ballad "Tenderly"), wrote three of the album's eight numbers and arranged all of them including Hamilton's sunny "Samba de Martelo," on which the guest star shines most brightly. Needless to say, the band is well-rehearsed and ready for any challenge, starting with Thelonious Monk's "Well You Needn't," which lopes along to a New Orleans-style beat behind crisp solos by Hamilton, baritone saxophonist Mark Hiebert and trumpeter Victor Garcia. "Samba de Martelo" is preceded by Clark's portentous "Red Sky" and Billy Strayhorn's plaintive "Lush Life," the last a showcase for tenor Chris Madsen with support from pianist Ryan Cohan. Guitarist Mike Pinto adds his solo voice to that of Hamilton's on "Samba."

Clark's "Free-Wheeling" is a strapping swinger with solos to match by Garcia, muted trombonist Bryant Scott and tenor Frank Anthony Bruno, "Femme Fatale" an easygoing charmer with eloquent statements by Cohan and alto Dan Nicholson. The seductive studio session ends with "Yesterday's Gardenias," a seldom-heard melody (reminiscent of "It's You or No One") that should be heard more often, whose well-knit solos are delivered courtesy of Nicholson, trumpeter BJ Cord and trombonist Tom Garling. In an area of the country that is suddenly awash in blue-chip big bands, Joe Clark has interposed an emphatic new voice that should be heard.

Dick Reynolds
Music & Friends
Origin
2013

As the saying goes, "with friends like these . . ." When one has been a part of the music scene for roughly half a century, as pianist Dick Reynolds has, he's bound to make more than a few friends along the way. As luck would have it, Reynolds' friends include a number of the most accomplished jazz musicians in and around Chicago, where he spent many years in recording studios while moonlighting as house pianist at the well-known jazz club, Mr. Kelly's. Hence the title of his new big-band album, Music & Friends, on which Reynolds and more than twenty of his close companions pay tribute to people he has worked with, others who have inspired him, good friends he has known throughout the years, and even his favorite fishing pond in Florida ("Reflections," for solo piano).

As Reynolds composed and arranged every song, a lot is riding on his expertise, which proves to be superior, from the lively curtain-raiser, "Otra Vez Alvarez" (a bow to Ruben Alvarez) on through to the pensive "Reflections." In between, Reynolds salutes violinist Johnny Frigo, tenor saxophonist Stan Getz and vocalist Nancy Wilson, among others, and pens luminous features for trumpeter Victor Garcia and tenor Mark Colby ("Playin' It Cool"), flugel Doug Scharf ("A Benny for Your Thoughts," for teacher Ben Mocini), trombonist Tom Garling ("Border Town") and guest harmonica virtuoso Howard Levy ("A Song for Stan"). While it may have seemed more suitable to have Colby, a close friend and admirer of Getz, solo on the graceful "Stan," Levy pinch-hits quite nicely. Reynolds solos adroitly with Levy on the fast-paced "Elena," with bassist Kelly Sill on "Gentle Is the Breeze" (for piano and rhythm), with alto Mike Smith on "A Song for Johnny," with Smith and tenor Steve Eisen on the assertive "Fancy Miss Nancy." Mention should be made of Reynolds' other themes, "The Gospel Truth" and "Hipity Hopity Funkity," as they are clearly among the session's high spots. Smith and drummer Joel Spencer solo on "Truth," Eisen and Scharf on "Funkity."

Even though Reynolds abandoned the world of music in 1996 to concentrate more fully on other cherished pursuits, namely relaxation and fishing (his nickname is "The Fishin' Musician"), it is hard to believe, based on the music presented here, that he has ever been away. As for his friends, long may they abide and prosper. A few more albums along these lines would surely be embraced with open arms and ears.

The Midland Youth Jazz Orchestra
Have You Heard
MYJO Jazz
2013

Great Britain's well-spoken Midland Youth Jazz Orchestra has produced a number of superlative albums that include memorable performances with trumpeter Bobby Shew and alto saxophonist Lanny Morgan. The ensemble's most recent recording, Have You Heard, readily upholds the impressive standards set on those earlier dates. Even though Shew and Morgan aren't present, MYJO, astutely directed by John Ruddick, carries the day, thanks in part to splendid charts by Bob Florence, Sammy Nestico, Rob McConnell and Bob Curnow, alongside classy arrangements by Mark Armstrong ("A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square") and MYJO's own tenor sax standout Callum Roxburgh ("I'll Remember April").

Whatever the context, MYJO is more than equal to the task, playing impeccably as a unit while showcasing a galaxy of engaging soloists whose artistry belies the fact that this really is a youth orchestra. Alto Alex Woods is outstanding on Cannonball Adderley's funky "Things Are Getting Better" (arranged by McConnell), trumpeter Nick Dewhurst the same on Florence's heartwarming ballad, "Tell Your Story." Florence arranged Johnny Mandel's seductive "Emily" and wrote the playful "Pumpkinette" (complete with deep-voiced two-bari intro) and clever "1, 2, 3," a three-movement theme played at various tempos, each with three beats to the bar. The session opens with Nestico's irrepressible "Magic Flea," on which Roxburgh, pianist Richard Morris and drummer Dave Tandy shine. "Berkeley Square," taken at a brighter-than-usual tempo, embodies tight ensemble work and crisp solos by trombonist Alex Paxton and alto Andy Isherwood. Dewhurst, pianist Aled Walker and flugel Nick Dunham are the soloists on "Emily," Dewhurst, Woods, Roxburgh and trombonist Tom Dunnett on "April" (whose brass soli alone is worth the price of admission). Bassist Nick Roberts solos with Dunnett and Walker on "Pumpkinette," while Walker, Dunham and guitarist Doug McMillan share blowing space on Curnow's shimmering arrangement of Pat Metheny's "Have You Heard."

This is by any measure a stellar studio date from start to finish. If you haven't heard the remarkable Midland Youth Jazz Orchestra, it's time you did. It's an experience you'll cherish.

University of Missouri Concert Jazz Band
Hidden Agenda
Mizzou Jazz
2013

The University of Missouri's flagship ensemble, the Concert Jazz Band, has studied and performed with a number of world-class professional musicians, most recently the Grammy Award-winning trombonist Robin Eubanks who stars on the band's third album, Hidden Agenda. Besides anchoring the 'bone section and soloing on most tracks, Eubanks wrote the opening and closing numbers, "Midtown" and "Global Citizen," both neatly arranged by the band's director, Arthur White, as was everything else including White's gregarious "Portrait of Art Blakey" (Eubanks is an alumnus of Blakey's Jazz Messengers) and Bob Sheppard's evocative title selection.

"Blakey" and "Citizen" are among the highlights of a congenial studio session that enfolds original compositions by Lynne Arriale ("Carry On"), Buddy Johnson ("Save Your Love for Me"), Scott Wendholt ("Her Allure"), Dewey Redman ("Boo Boo Doop"), Andy Narell ("Jenny's Room") and the George Gershwin evergreen, "Summertime." The band's pianist, Lizzie Fracica, doubles as vocalist on "Save Your Love" and "Summertime," offering passable readings of both songs. White vacates the podium to fashion tenor solos on "Midtown" and "Summertime," and is splendid on each. And even though Eubanks commands much of the solo space, and rightly so, there is room left for incisive statements from trumpeters Lexie Signor and Jason Mathews; saxophonists Zach Eldridge, Nassim Benchaabane, Justin Downs and Dirk Downing; trombonist David Witter, guitarist Sam Copeland and vibraphonist Nathan Smith. Three faculty members take part in the enterprise: pianist Tom Andes , who sits in on half a dozen numbers and solos on "Hidden Agenda"; trumpeter Allen Beeson ("Carry On") and bassist Kevin Hennessy ("Midtown").

It's clear that UM's Concert Jazz Band continues to move forward under White's able direction, and Hidden Agenda comprises more than an hour of admirable big-band jazz performed by a well-rehearsed ensemble and superb guest artist. In short, another winner from UM.

In Smaller Packages . . .

Peter Anderson & Will Anderson
Correspondence
Smalls Records
2013

While brothers and / or sisters making music together isn't uncommon, they rarely choose to play the same or similar instruments, let alone embrace a modest arena such as jazz in which to earn a living and make their voices heard. Even so, rare doesn't begin to describe the Anderson brothers, identical twins from Washington, DC, who have not only made jazz their music of choice but play it on the same instrument, the saxophone. Identical twins who both play saxophone? Until now that has been unheard of, in jazz or anywhere else. A question that springs to mind is, how do you tell saxophone-playing identical twins apart? Well, for one thing, Peter Anderson plays tenor sax, his brother Will, the alto. For another—well, actually, there is no "other," as in all verifiable respects, physical and philosophical, the Andersons are indeed equivalent, as is their knowledge of and love for mainstream jazz.. A second question, perhaps even more to the point, is how well do they play? The answer, in a word, is superbly, an appraisal that is repeatedly borne out on their aptly named debut recording, Correspondence.

Even before listening, the impression is that anyone who can enlist a rhythm section that includes pianist Kenny Barron, bassist Ben Wolfe and drummer Kenny Washington must have a lot to offer musically, as those gentlemen aren't inclined to play with any stray passers-by who wander into their neighborhood. The Anderson brothers readily affirm that their decision was sound. In other words, these brothers are no mere novelty act but world-class musicians who only coincidentally happen to be identical twins in their early twenties. As a result, Barron, Wolfe and Washington play with ease and composure, confident that they are supporting a duo of impressive front-liners who not only know the score but in fact wrote several of them (that are among the more tantalizing ingredients on the album). Barron, whose praises have been sung around the world for decades, seems especially happy to be here, playing with a buoyancy and ease of articulation that calls to mind Hank Jones or Tommy Flanagan.

Even so, the Andersons are the headliners, and they don't disappoint, either on works by Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell or Thad Jones, Cole Porter's "Get Out of Town," or their own splendid compositions (half a dozen in all, equally divided between the brothers). It's clear from the outset that the twins have done their homework, drawn what they can from the masters of their respective instruments, and merged elements of the past and present into a post-bop style that presses forward rhythmically and harmonically even as it rests comfortably on the bedrock of jazz tradition. Besides referencing briefly such icons as Dexter Gordon, Wardell Gray, Teddy Edwards, Hank Mobley and Frank Foster, among others, Peter's freewheeling spirit is not far removed from that of contemporaries such as Eric Alexander, Grant Stewart, Joshua Redman and Chris Potter. Likewise, while the influence of Frank Morgan, Lou Donaldson, Sonny Stitt and Charles McPherson can be discerned in Will's alto, so can Bobby Watson, Gary Bartz, Antonio Hart and Kenny Garrett. Even so, each Anderson has shaped his own voice, and it is a strong one indeed.

The brothers are stellar from the outset, bright and eloquent on Peter's "Correspondence" and "You Have to Try It Once" and Will's "Bread and Butter" and "Go Ahead!" (a.k.a. "Cherokee"). Powell is represented by the ballad "I'll Keep Loving You," Gillespie by "Shaw Nuff," Jones by "Slipped Again." Completing the program are Peter's "Meat of the Matter" and Will's "Contagious Curiosity." Not one of them is less than admirable. The Anderson twins have made a smashing debut, one that lends new credence to the adage that "two heads are better than one." In this case, those two heads happen to be identical, in temperament as well as appearance. The jazz world is better for that, and should be even more enriched by their growing artistry in the years to come.

Rich Thompson
Less Is More
Origin
2013

As a part of his musical philosophy, drummer Rich Thompson espouses the premise that "less is more," which could be true, more or less. Clearly, there are less musicians on Thompson's new album than there are on a big band, or even a sextet; on the other hand, there are more than in a duo, trio or quartet. The five who are present and accounted for seem about right, as Thompson presides over a groovy session that is enhanced by the explicit artistry of trumpeter Terell Stafford. As there are no liner notes, it is anyone's guess as to what Thompson actually means by the phrase "less is more" (also the album's title selection, a quasi-waltz on which Stafford is typically persuasive).

This is actually more quartet than quintet, as one of its members, tenor saxophonist Doug Stone, is heard only on Rodgers and Hart's ballad "I Didn't Know What Time It Was" (taken at a livelier-than-usual tempo) and Joe Henderson's easygoing "Step Lightly," perhaps providing more insight into the phrase "less is more." Speaking of ballads, Stafford is at his best in that context, soloing eloquently on another Rodgers and Hart evergreen, "It's Easy to Remember," Frank Loesser's "I've Never Been in Love Before" and (muted) Tom Garling's graceful "Camping Out." That's not to say he's any less impressive at brisker tempos, such as Kenny Dorham's "Lotus Blossom," on which Stafford eagerly takes the ball and runs with it. Stafford's burnished flugel graces Thompson's "Less Is More," which precedes Ornette Coleman's lyrical (yes, lyrical) "Invisible" and Wayne Shorter's "This One's for Albert," one of three tracks on which pianist Gary Versace moves to the Hammond B3 organ (the others are "Step Lightly" and bassist Jeff Campbell's quirky "Hoot Gibson"). Campbell, Versace (who solos handsomely on piano and organ) and Thompson comprise a solid rhythm section, one that Stafford and Stone know they can lean on for unflagging support.

This is by no means a groundbreaking session but one that offers nearly an hour of tasteful straight-ahead jazz capably performed by four (and sometimes five) world-class musicians. Perhaps less is more after all.


Tracks and Personnel

The Hofstra Project

Tracks: Full House; Where Are You; No Evidence; Duke Ellington's Sound of Love; Inner Urge; Pent-Up House; Moody's Mood for Love; St. Thelonious; Tricotism; The Song Isn't You; The Peacocks; Blues For . . .; Evansville.

Personnel: Dave Lalama: composer, arranger, leader, piano; Leon Petruzzi: trumpet, flugelhorn; Mike Rubenstein: trumpet, flugelhorn; Glenn Drewes: trumpet, flugelhorn (3, 5-7, 9-11, 13); Nathan Warner: trumpet, flugelhorn (1, 2, 4, 8, 12); Mike Carubia: trumpet, flugelhorn; Dave Pietro: alto, soprano sax, flute; Jonathan Holford: alto sax; Ralph Lalama: tenor sax; John Marshall: tenor sax; Jeff Lange: baritone sax; John Mosca: trombone; Brent Chiarello: trombone; Joey Devassy: trombone; Justin Comito: bass trombone; Pete Coco: bass; Tony Tedesco: drums.

Lush

Tracks: Well You Needn't; Red Sky; Lush Life; Samba de Martelo; Free-Wheeling; Femme Fatale; Tenderly; Yesterday's Gardenias.

Personnel: Joe Clark: leader, composer, arranger, trumpet, flugelhorn; Brent Turney: trumpet, flugelhorn; Chuck Parrish: trumpet, flugelhorn; Victor Garcia: trumpet, flugelhorn; B.J Cord: trumpet, flugelhorn; Dan Nicholson: alto sax, flute; Corbin Andrick: alto, soprano sax, clarinet; Chris Madsen: tenor sax, flute; Anthony Bruno: tenor sax, flute; Mark Hiebert: baritone sax, bass clarinet; Andy Baker: trombone; Tom Garling: trombone; Bryant Scott: trombone; Tom Matta: bass trombone; Mike Pinto: guitar; Ryan Cohan: piano; Joe Policastro: bass. Special guest artist—Jeff Hamilton: drums.

Music & Friends

Tracks: Otra Vez Alvarez; A Song for Johnny; Playin' It Cool; Fancy Miss Nancy; Special Thoughts of You; Elena; A Benny for Your Thoughts; Border Town; A Song for Stan; Gentle Is the Breeze; The Gospel Truth; Hipity Hopity Funkity; Reflections.

Personnel: Dick Reynolds: leader, piano, electric piano (2-6, 8-11, 13); Danny Barber: trumpet; Kirk Garrison: trumpet; Doug Scharf: trumpet; Victor Garcia: trumpet (3, 8, 11); Art Hoyle: trumpet, flugelhorn (2); Mike Smith, Pat Mallinger, Steve Eisen, Rob Haite, Jerry DiMuzio: saxophones; Mark Colby: tenor sax (3, 8, 11); Scott Bentall: trombone; Andy Baker: trombone; Tom Matta: trombone; Mike Young: trombone; Tom Garling: trombone (3, 8, 11); Richard Drexler: piano (1, 7, 12), electric bass (12); Paulinho Garcia: guitar (6, 9, 10); Howard Levy: harmonica (6, 9); Kelly Sill: bass (1-11, 13); Joel Spencer: drums; Alejo Poveda: percussion.

Have You Heard

Tracks: Magic Flea; Things Are Getting Better; Tell Your Story; 1, 2, 3; A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square; Emily; I'll Remember April; Pumpkinette; Have You Heard.

Personnel: John Ruddick: music director; Ben Gaskin: trumpet; Kevin Wedrychowsky: trumpet; James Horton: trumpet; Mark James: trumpet; Nick Dunham: trumpet; Nick Dewhurst: trumpet; Chris Pickering: trumpet; David Tibbitts: trumpet; Alex Woods: alto sax; Andy Isherwood: alto sax; Lauren Peatfield: alto sax; Callum Roxborough: tenor sax; Alicia Gardener-Trejo: tenor sax; Colin Mills: tenor, baritone sax; Chris Brown: tenor sax; Rosie Price: baritone sax; Tom Coppins: trombone; Tom Dunnett: trombone; Alex Paxton: trombone; Joe Smith: trombone; Jon Warburton: bass trombone; Aled Walker: piano; Richard Morris: piano; Doug McMillan: guitar; Nick Roberts: bass; Dave Tandy: drums.

Hidden Agenda

Tracks: Midtown; Carry On; Save Your Love for Me; Portrait of Art Blakey; Her Allure; Boo Boo Doop; Hidden Agenda; Summertime; Jenny's Room; Global Citizen.

Personnel: Arthur White: director, saxophone solos (1, 8); Lexie Signor: trumpet; Jason Mathews: trumpet; Casey Hanford: trumpet; Anne Linders: trumpet; Zach Eldridge: alto sax; Nassim Benchaabane: alto sax; Justin Downs: tenor sax; Dirk Downing: tenor sax; Sarah Carney: baritone sax; David Witter: trombone; Caleb Roman: trombone; Andrew Meyer: trombone; Sam Reed: bass trombone; Lizzie Fracica: piano (2-4, 9), vocals (3, 8); Sam Copeland: guitar; Nathan Smith: vibes; Meyer Neel: bass; Will Lyons: drums. Special guest artist—Robin Eubanks: trombone. NU Jazz Faculty artists—Tom Andes: piano (1, 5-8, 10); Allen Beeson: trumpet (2); Kevin Hennessy: bass (1).

Correspondence

Tracks: Correspondence; Bread & Butter; You Have to Try It Once; Go Ahead!; I'll Keep Loving You; Meat of the Matter; Let's Get Out of Town; Contagious Curiosity; Shaw Nuff; Slipped Again.

Personnel: Peter Anderson: tenor sax; Will Anderson: alto sax; Kenny Barron: piano; Ben Wolfe: bass; Kenny Washington: drums.

Less Is More

Tracks: Lotus Blossom; Hoot Gibson; I Didn't Know What Time It Was; Camping Out; Less Is More; Invisible; It's Easy to Remember; This Is for Albert; I've Never Been in Love Before; Step Lightly.

Personnel: Rich Thompson: leader, drums; Terell Stafford: trumpet, flugelhorn; Doug Stone: tenor saxophone; Gary Versace: piano, Hammond B3 organ; Jeff Campbell: bass.

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