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Stacie McGregor has been part of the music scene in Toronto in several capacities since the 1980s. This is her first jazz recording as leader on which the band plays her own original material. She recruits some good musicians to assist her, a perfect cast for mainstream jazz. And McGregor keeps her excursions short: the longest it takes for her and her band to make a statement is just under six minutes.
Most of McGregor’s tunes come off well. She has some good ideas and when they sink into a composition the music reverberates strongly. A visit to “Art’s Place” gets off on a funky piano vamp from McGregor. It’s a breezy tune given a warm breath of air by Kevin Turcotte on the trumpet and then by Chris Mitchell who dips and swerves on the saxophone extending the concept with energy. Turcotte sets up a bluesy, extensive canvas on “Uncle B” with Mitchell swinging with abandon and McGregor topping the goodness with a sprightly air as she edges and elaborates on the structure of the tune. There is a modulated swing when they go “Straight Up,” a pleasant tune that is again depth-charged by the main frame of Turcotte, Mitchell and McGregor.
McGregor’s turn on “Red’s Blues” is a perfunctory nod toward the medium. The unravelling is too tight, there is not enough space, and the tune trundles along. So also “Very Late.” There is nothing to distinguish it from the every day; the tune lacks a distinct character. But this is her Stacie McGregor's first album and for the most part, it is a creditable effort.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.