For his debut recording bassist/composer Kitt Lyles draws on his love for the jazz tradition, as well as southern folk and blues. A South Carolina native now residing in Chicago, he leads a working sextet (with one additional player on two tracks) through a varied program of originals. The title tune is built on a vamp, with guitarist Hans Luchs and tenor saxophonist Roy McGrath opening, joined by the trumpeter Justin Copeland. "Snowfall On Carolina" is an upbeat swing tune, with what must be a "snow day" feel, since everything shuts down in the Carolinas when there's more than a minor snowfall.
"Though the Steady Hand May Tremble" is hymn-like, showing the southern folk influence, while "Moving Forward, Looking Backward" is solidly in the bop tradition, a fast tune which includes a round of solos trading eights. When Lyles and company play the blues they get down to the roots with an extended sequence of "Blues for the Mountain" (featuring an extended solo bass introduction by Lyles) and "Can't Keep Living This Way." Guitarist Luchs stays in jazz mode, resisting the temptation to hit the overdrive pedal and go gritty, but the band really goes for the blues feeling. The album closes with "A Desperate Heart's Last Stand," a return to a mainstream jazz soundan effective bookend to the opening track.
A solid debut. Lyles is a composer and arranger with something to say, supported by a strong, well-balanced band.
Gone by Now; Snowfall on Carolina; Real Talk; Though the Steady Hand May Tremble; Moving Forward, Looking Backward; Blues for the Mountain; Can’t Keep Living This Way; A Desperate Heart’s Last Stand.
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