136

Ned Otter: Powder Keg

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
For years tenor saxophonist Ned Otter polished his jazz craft as a protege of sax man George Coleman. Indeed, the first CD issued on Otter's Two and Four Recordings was Coleman's Danger High Voltage. Otter played alongside his mentor on that disc, and Coleman joined him on the younger player's debut, So Little Time (Two and Four, 2002). So well had Otter learned his lesson from the master that it was often hard to tell who was playing—teacher or pupil—as the solos unfolded. With Powder Keg Otter slips out of the his elder's shadow with a voice that has taken on a more personal distinction.

The sound is something of a welcome throwback, rooted in the Art Blakey, Wayne Shorter, Hank Mobley Blue Note recordings of the early sixties. Straight-ahead jazz, swinging on the up-tempo jaunts, bubbling mid-tempo, and smoldering in the ballads.

On this mostly quintet outing with a couple of quartet tunes, Otter is joined by two seasoned veterans. Pianist Harold Mabern has been called the world's greatest accompanist, and he proves it throughout this set. Tasteful, low key yet sparklingly incisive when the improvisational demand calls for it, his solos just jump. On Wes Montgomery's mid-tempo "Road Song" he sounds like diamond ice cubes in a glass of something clear and bubbly.

The second veteran is on the disc is drummer Billy Higgins. Powder Keg is one of the late timekeeper's last recording appearances, and he went out on top of his game, weaving complex textures and using the brushes to full effect on "I Get Sentimental Over Nothing," a lesser-known Nat King Cole vehicle. It's a gorgeous ballad, and Otter makes me think of Ellington tenor man Ben Webster here, with just a hint of rasp at the end of his phrases, aided by Higgins' brush work.

Trumpeter Tom Kirkpatrick and bassist Dennis Irwin round out the lineup. Kirkpatick has a very personal sound on his horn. His notes have a malleable feel to them, a slight blurring, as if his trumpet's alloy contains a strain of a softer, duller metal, like platinum. It's a sound that—along with his easy fluidity of ideas—compliments Otter's crisper approach. Bassist Irwin's work is solid, setting the groove without fanfare mostly, until the closer, "Jeannine," where he gets pugnacious on us, stepping out for a solo in front of a comping Mabern, with just the right touch of attitude. This twelve minute cooker serves as the disc's highlight, but that's a matter of taste and/or small degree. This is a start-to-finish first rate set of straight-ahead jazz.

Did I mention the sound? Rudy Van Gelder. Enough said?

Visit Ned Otter on the web at www.nedotter.com .


Track Listing: Tenderly, Powder Keg, A Gentle Breeze, Road Song, Been There Befroe, Black Sunday, I Get Sentimental Over Nothing, Jeannine

Personnel: Ned Otter-tenor saxophone; Tom Kirkpatrick--trumpet; Harold Mabern--piano; Billy Higgins--drums; Dennis Irwin--bass

Title: Powder Keg | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Two and Four


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles

More Articles

Read Whispers on the Wind CD/LP/Track Review Whispers on the Wind
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 23, 2017
Read Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman CD/LP/Track Review Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 23, 2017
Read Heptagon CD/LP/Track Review Heptagon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 23, 2017
Read ON Tour CD/LP/Track Review ON Tour
by John Kelman
Published: October 22, 2017
Read On a Distant Shore CD/LP/Track Review On a Distant Shore
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read "Oração Para Amanhã (Prayer for Tomorrow)" CD/LP/Track Review Oração Para Amanhã (Prayer for...
by Roger Farbey
Published: July 10, 2017
Read "Sunset" CD/LP/Track Review Sunset
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 1, 2017
Read "Numbers" CD/LP/Track Review Numbers
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 30, 2017
Read "Honey And Salt" CD/LP/Track Review Honey And Salt
by Jerome Wilson
Published: August 27, 2017
Read "TajMo" CD/LP/Track Review TajMo
by James Nadal
Published: April 19, 2017
Read "Message From Saturn" CD/LP/Track Review Message From Saturn
by James Nadal
Published: November 12, 2016

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY IT!  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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