Altin Sencalar and Chris Glassman were classmates in graduate school at Michigan State University (MSU) where they were both trombonist Michael Dease
's proteges. When they decided to release their debut, the exciting Realization
, their mentor produced the record, contributed a tune and made a guest appearance on the opening track.
For this bop-based session Sencalar and Glassman recruited a band of both up-and-coming and established musicians. The result is a very cohesive quintet/sextet which effortlessly, and with supreme camaraderie, interprets the delightful mix of originals and covers.
Any album whose co-leaders play trombone is bound to draw comparisons with J.J. Johnson
and Kai Winding
's classic works. Although that may be a rightful analogy Sencalar and Glassman are not trying to copy past legends, they are forging their own path. Having said that, they do include Johnson's "Shortcake" in their repertoire. The two frontmen follow one another in intelligent, fluid improvisations which, as an homage, remains close to the main theme. Veteran bassist Rodney Whitaker
takes an agile and intriguing solo with crisp, reverberating tones before a return to the head.
Pianist Addison Frei
, who is part of the Dr Phillips Center Jazz Orchestra under Whitaker's artistic directorship, brings a bluesy touch to Sencalar's effervescent "In You Own Head." His sparkling cascade of notes contrasts nicely with mellifluous chords from the leaders' fellow alum guitarist Nathan Borton
. Glassman wields his bass trombone with grace and elegance while Sencalar takes center stage with an inventive extemporization made up of muscular and fluid lines.
The Glassman-penned title piece opens with dramatic refrains which he leads with his buttery growl. Sencalar mirrors Glassman during his turn in the spotlight, with clever spontaneous phrases. A return to the head ushers in another MSU grad, drummer Zach Adleman
's thunderous, unaccompanied polyrhythms. Realization
is a worthwhile freshman effort by two musicians who not only share a creative vision but are also equally rooted in tradition. Even though nothing groundbreaking happens on this disc, Sencalar and Glassman infuse it with a refreshing uniqueness and do not succumb to the pitfall of imitating the legendary masters of their common instrument..
D is for Dastardly- Comp: Chris Glassman; In You Own Head: Comp: Altin Sencalar; Impressions- Comp: John
Coltrane ARR: Addison Frei; When Reality Sets in- Comp: Altin Sencalar; Nobody Else But Me- ARR: Randy
Napoleon; It's No Wonder- Comp: Chris Glassman; What Was Good is Good: Comp: Altin Sencalar; The Maze: Comp:
Herbie Hancock, ARR: Steve Davis; The Big D: Comp: Michale Dease; Shortcake: JJ Johnson ARR: Jason Hainsworth;
Realization: Comp: Chris Glassman Arr: Joseph Herbst.