Former House Speaker Tip O'Neill once said, "All politics is local." The same can be said of music, particularly when considering that music so close to home it is often missed. Little Rock-native Tom Cox teaches jazz piano and jazz combo after having taught at the Cleveland Music School Settlement and Akron University's Firestone Conservatory of Music and performed with Freddie Hubbard and Julian "Cannonball" Adderley. Bassist Bill Huntington was part of the Hurricane Katrina diaspora that included noted New Orleans guitarist Ted Ludwig. Huntington spent a decade as Ellis Marsalis's studio bassist and also taught in the jazz studies departments of Loyola and the University of New Orleans. The two artists prove simpatico on the dually credited Red, recorded and mixed in the Little Rock area.
The pair program an interesting ten-song collection of original compositions as well as some off-the-beaten-path "standards" from the likes of Billy Strayhorn and Chick Corea. Cox is cerebral composer who first visualizes and then composes. "Music for Film" sounds exactly as the title. A ballad, Cox performs the piece with a New Age serenity sans the empty pathos. Bill Somer's marching "Bluse to Youse" permits both musicians to walk briskly within a contemporary composition. "I Fall In Love Too Easily," the best known of the standards, effects as a swaying waltz, with Cox introducing light re- harmonizations that allow Huntington space and time for solo thought.
The disc centerpiece is Cox's lengthy consideration of the ballad "Danny Boy." Cox re-harmonizes the piece more aggressively than others on the recording. The pianist retains the sweetness and sentiment of the ballad, expanding on this character in his carefully hewn solo. Again, Cox uses a New Age harmonic approach that suffers from none of the banal excess of the genre. Huntington plays with his greatest empathy here. There is much to like in this fine disc. It is a celebration of virtuosity and friendship.
Track Listing: Music for Film; Bluse to Youse; I Fall In Love To Easily; Danny Boy;
Red; Star-Crossed Lovers, Summit; The Duke; A River Reaching; Samba E
I love jazz because it swings.
I was first exposed to jazz in Houston.
I met Joe LoCascio and Bob Henschen.
The best show I ever attended was Pat Martino.
The first jazz record I bought was Time Out by the Dave Brubeck Quartet.
My advice to new listeners is to relax on 2 and 4 beats.