Playing favorites can be a subjective enterprise but it would take a real grouch to insist that Terell Stafford
isn't one of the most talented of the current crop of trumpeters. Stafford's got 'it'excellent tone, good ideas, precision, focus, drive and reliability. And that's just the short list of his skills.
Some musicians don't like their work to be reduced to 'star' ratings but hopefully the Clayton brothersand Mr. Staffordwon't mind the celestial terminology because their latest collaboration Brother to Brother is heavenly. Showcasing Stafford on trumpet and flugelhorn and featuring this project's masterminds, siblings Jeff Clayton
on alto saxophone and John Clayton
on bass, this undertaking is four-star or, if you have something against the star-system, first-class all the way. A tribute to high-achieving brothers in jazz, there are no fumbles. Originality and good taste and the wherewithal to follow through on all fronts is evidenced, amply. This is a highly enjoyable recording, fun too; John sparkles star-like in a humorous take on the bassman's life in a Keter Betts' commentary called "Walking Bass," vocals-plus-bass, which he and Jeff bill as a "tribute" to themselves.
Jeff offers up two terrific tributes to the Jones brothers, "Wild Man" (primarily a nod to drummer Elvin, with the impressive Obed Calvaire
carrying out the beats here) and the simply labeled but highly inventive "The Jones Brothers" (with Stafford on brass duty in lieu of Jones brother/composer/cornetist Thad). To strengthen the family ties further, John's son Gerald works on the ivories repping this three-way tribute which includes homage to third Jones Hank (though the 20-something Gerald, an excellent player at every turn in this CD, who has shared a stage in duet with Hank Jones, sounds indelibly influenced by Oscar Peterson, no bad thing). As for the composing end, young Gerald cooks up a clever arrangement of a Nat Adderley piece, "Jive Samba," while brothers Nat and Cannonball get a nod from Jeff's "Big Daddy Adderley" as well as John's effective "Still More Work," referencing a Nat tune linked to slavery called "Work Song". If this isn't a comprehensive salute to jazz brothersno Heath brothers here, for instance, or Breckers or Montgomerys and on and onit's not a worry. The cup is full.
On yet another welcome recording, the versatile Stafford plays to another scene (and tribute) in saxophonist/composer Tim Warfield
's homage to organist Shirley Scott
(with whom the able Warfield performed for a time, as did Stafford, who plays here with knowing insight and characteristic responsiveness and resourcefulness). The organ can be an acquired taste for some but here unfolds its pleasures winningly. Scott's legacy is in good handswith all aboard locomoting ahead full-steam and on track, including Pat Bianchi on Hammond B3 and Byron Landham
on drums with Daniel Sadownick pitching in on congas and percussion for a few tracks. Even "The Beat Goes On," a by-now souvenir of another era created by Sonny Bono, reads fresh while Warfield's fully committed playing on his own whirlwind title track is vital and vibrant.
Tracks and Personnel
Brother to Brother
Wild Man; Still More Work; Jive Samba; Big Daddy Adderleys; Bass Face; Walking Bass; Where Is Love?; The Jones Brothers.
Jeff Clayton: alto saxophone; John Clayton, bass, vocal; Terell Stafford: trumpet, flugelhorn; Gerald Clayton: piano; Obed Calvaire: drums.
One For Shirley
Cristo Redentor-Cavalry; Oasis; Lullaby For Nijee; The Beat Goes On; Stomping at the Savoy; Make It Last; Sometimes You Got to Let the People Know; Tokyo Girl; One For Shirley; Yours Is My Heart Alone;
Tim Warfield: tenor and soprano sax; Terell Stafford: trumpet and flugelhorn; Pat Bianchi: Hammond B3 organ; Byron Landham: drums; Daniel G. Sadownick: congas and percussion (2, 4, 8).