Bassist Steve Haines Quintet 's impressive Stickadiboom
is a thought-provoking, energetic, excellently composed and arranged, modern jazz album. Haines, a Canadian transplant who directs the Miles Davis Program in Jazz Studies at Greensboro's University of North Carolina, lived in New York City during a research assignment, playing, hanging out and immersing himself in the jazz scene, where he met legendary drummer, Jimmy Cobb
, who is featured on six of the eight selections. Cobb's exceptionally steady and sturdy drum work keeps thing fresh and polished, in addition to contributing the snappy, swinging "Composition 101." The rest, all written by Haines with his classy, prominent bass line, is a colorful mix of slow, waltzy, mid-tempo, bossa-nova, and upbeat thumping tunes.
The album is also positive proof that the Carolina jazz connection is alive and well. There is something about North Carolina that brings out the best in a jazz musicianJohn Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Max Roach and Nina Simone are amongst its numerous outstanding natives. Jimmy Heath, who lived in the state, once joked that the reason so many jazz all-stars came from the area was because of the water. Stickadiboom clearly shows that it may be a little more than that, and that maybe blues and the soulful, churchy feeling have something to do with it also. Three of the musicians on this New York City recording date are North Carolinians: Haines lives in Greensboro; pianist Chip Crawford is a Raleigh native; and drummer Thomas Taylor, who performs nicely on the straight-ahead "The Freightrain" and "Re-Frayne," was born in Elizabeth City.
New York City-based veteran Chip Crawford is awesome as usual, soloing and comping on the playfully bouncy "Prospect Park," which allows him to showcase his sophisticated, gospel-like touch. The pianist also shines on the bossa nova, "Rendezvous," the strongest and most lingering piece on the album in part from the first-class work of trumpeter/soprano saxophonist Rob Smith and tenor saxophonist David Lown. The pretty ballad, "Patience," named after a friend of Haines' daughter, features Smith and Lown in a melancholy and contemplative mood. Its lush and simple arrangement features a melodic statement highlighting Cobb's masterful brush work. Haines is right there, too, supplying the bottom at just the right timeproviding wonderful, non-obtrusive foundations throughout, but his work on "Patience" stands out. Unfortunately, the title cut, a boogaloo reminiscent of Lee Morgan's "Sidewinder," is not as good as the others, and comes off as a second-rate Morgan imitation.
Overall, Haines' second album as a leader is a lively, pleasurable session. This is no surprise; in performance Haines is all smiles, projecting a picture of a cat in pure ecstasy. He seems to love every minute of it and treats the bass like a delicate pearlin a trance as he digs in and keeps the music going in a blissful direction. Stickadiboom is Haines's wonderful way of documenting that delightful feeling, and his obvious passion and respect for jazz music.
The Freightrain; Stickadiboom; Rendezvous; Sutak 9-1-1; Patience; Prospect Park; Re:Frayne; Composition 101.
Rob Smith: trumpet, soprano sax; David Lown: tenor sax; Chip Crawford: piano; Steve Haines: bass; Thomas Taylor: drums (1, 7); Jimmy Cobb: drums (2-6, 8).