Bluejay Records is an inspirational company that was founded by Cecil Brooks III and Nat Simpkins several years ago and is based out of Manchester, MA. Its existence shows that plenty of initiative still exists in the jazz world, and that artists today are striving to maintain the integrity that comes from doing something independently. Their recording artists have netted high-profile musicians Steve Turre, Don Braden, Bryan Carrott, and Steve Wilson as sidemen and have generally shown to be solid leaders in their own right.
The Persuader is easily the most interesting, entertaining, and encouraging of the three recent Bluejay releases (Nat Simpkins' Crescent City and Mark Griffith's Drumatic being the other two). Eight of the twelve compositions are Rolfe's own, and while they wander at times, the tunes generally reveal a young talent at work. The gently dissonant (though it would be quite a stretch to labely any of this material avant-garde) writing is greatly complemented by Cecil Brooks III's busy drumwork and features some burning solos from the two seasoned veterans on the date, Steve Turre and Don Braden. Rolfe's playing recalls bits of Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett, and even hints at Lonnie Liston Smith, but has a surprising amount of originality, especially on Alan Brandt's "That's All" (which he takes alone), and on a fiery take of "Caravan." While Rolfe clearly has a ways to go before becoming a major presence, The Persuader is an exciting debut from a clearly talented pianist who has the potential to join the ranks of the young lions that emerged in the '90's.
1. A Batch For Bo Nooty; 2. I've Never Been in Love Before; 3. The Persauder; 4. Maryann - Part I: Requiem; 5. Maryann - Part II: Celebration; 6. Along Came Betty; 7. Caravan; 8. In a Sentimental Mood; 9. Coca's New Paints; 10. Empty's Samba; 11. That's All; 12. Headrum's Blues.
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