The University of Kentucky Small Chamber Jazz Ensembles: Profound . . . Like Gumbo!

Jack Bowers By

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Saxophone quartets are an acquired taste, as is "chamber Jazz," and I must confess I'm not quite there yet. Having said that, I must express my admiration for the talents of the University of Kentucky's Mega-Sax Quartet (David Balfour, Rudy Brannon, Lindon Kanakanui, Joe Carucci) and the other chamber ensembles represented on Profound . . . Like Gumbo!, some recorded in concert, others in the UK studios. Miles Osland, the school's director of Jazz Studies (and soloist on tracks 6 and 8-12), must be doing something right, as each group sounds exceedingly polished and professional. The Mega-Sax selections (tracks 1-7) are marked by intricate harmonic patterns, close counterpoint and split-second timing. Everyone is squarely in the groove, and there are energetic solos by all hands. "Conservation" and "Full English Breakfast" were recorded at the Elmhurst College (IL) Jazz Festival, the others in a studio. Four of the Mega-Sax numbers were written by Mike Mower, with one each by Robert Watson, Ed Jackson and Paquito D'Rivera. Tracks 5 and 6 are performed by Mega-Sax Quartet No. 2 (Chris Barbee, Jana White, Joshua Branham, Tom Wallis). Pianist Raleigh Dailey, a superb accompanist and resourceful soloist, joins Osland for well-crafted duo performances of Lee Konitz' "Ablution," Osland's "Lisa's da Bossa," and Dailey?s "Title Goes Here" and "First Step." Osland plays alto on the first of these, soprano on the second and third, flute on the fourth. The album takes its title from the name of UK's other chamber Jazz group, Profound Gumbo (tracks 12-17), which in turn derives its name from comments by trumpeter Wynton Marsalis about the symbiotic relationship of Jazz to gumbo, both having sprung from the fertile crescent of New Orleans. Gumbo really gets down on Dailey's funky "Union County Line," taking its swinging cue from bassist Danny Cecil and drummer Mike Skaggs and paving the way for strapping solos by Osland (alto), trombonist Brad Kerns, trumpeter Kelly Pratt, Carucci (baritone) and Dailey (Fender Rhodes). Carucci wrote "Cecilism" and "Grey Swans," Pratt "The Kwisatz Haderach" and "Blame It." Profound Gumbo closes the generously timed album with Rahsaan Roland Kirk's bluesy "Serenade to a Cuckoo." Lovers of chamber Jazz are sure to relish this well-cooked plate of Gumbo.

Contact: Sea Breeze Records, P.O. Box 1910, Pismo Beach, CA 93448-1910. Phone 818-489-2055.

Track Listing: Conservation; The Easter Islander; Building; Svea Rike; Wapango; The Frequent Flyer; Full English Breakfast; Ablution; Title Goes Here; First Step; Lisa's da Bossa; Union County Line; Cecilism; The Kwisatz Haderach; Grey Swans; Blame It; Serenade to a Cuckoo (79:13).

Personnel: Mega-Sax Quartet 1 (1-4, 7) -- David Balfour, alto, soprano sax; Rudy Brannon, alto sax; Lindon Kanakanui, tenor sax; Joe Carucci, baritone sax. Mega-Sax Quartet 2 (5, 6) -- Chris Barbee, alto, soprano sax; Jana White, alto sax; Joshua Branham, tenor sax; Tom Wallis, baritone sax. The Osland / Dailey Duo (8?12) -- Miles Osland, alto, soprano sax, flute; Raleigh Dailey, piano. Profound Gumbo (13-17) -- Kelly Pratt, trumpet, flugelhorn; Brad Kerns, trombone; Joe Carucci, baritone sax; Raleigh Dailey, keyboards; Danny Cecil, bass; Matt Skaggs, drums.

Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Sea Breeze Jazz | Style: Contemporary/Smooth


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