Shake It! is Richie Vitale's third album for the Swiss based TCB label. Saxophonist Ralph Lalama guests sharing the bill and playing time with Vitale throughout. But Lalama's dissonant, biting sax seems out of place on a CD which for the most part is devoted to the hushed side of jazz. In contrast Vitale's horns never loses their cool, even on those semi abstract cuts such as "Hara". This nine minute track features avant gardish Lalama's chattering, offset by the pleasant discursive piano of Tardo Hammer. You can clearly hear that the lineage comes from the small bop groups of the 1950's and 1960's e.g. those headed by Hank Mobley, Freddie Hubbard, et. al. One gets the feeling that this tune was inserted to allow everyone to show their impressive technical prowess -and that they do with ease and aplomb.
But the tunes that attend to the melody and are lyrical will catch and hold the ear of most listeners like a dreamy rendering of "Blame It on My Youth". Vitale stays well within the middle register and on or near the beat. No screeching here. That debts are owed to the Art Farmer, Miles Davis and Chet Baker school of brass playing is evident. With his muted horn in hand Vitale comes close to Miles Davis' aloofness on Jeff Morrison's "Silhouette". Lalama shows he has a gentle side on this cut. Vitale's interest in music from the Broadway stage is revealed by "Small World", which comes close to being a classical brass quintet performance, and "I Believe in You" from Gypsy. Vitale played in the pit band for that show. He also gained important experience on his way to becoming a solid lyrical player as a member of the band backing Frank Sinatra, sitting in the trumpet section which included the mellifluous horn of one Harry "Sweets" Edison. Vitale's association with Thad Jones is why "Evol Deklaw Ni" - "Love Walked" in backwards - is on the musical roster.
Qualified only by those couple of cuts which were conspicuous by their deviation from the album's norm, this is a fine effort and is highly recommended. Visit Richie's Internet home at www.richievitale.com.
Track Listing: Shake It!; Small World; I Believe in You; Blame It on My Youth; Hara; Evol Deklaw - Love Walked In; Jive Rhumba; I Hadn't Anyone Till You; Silhouette