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Andy Martin/Vic Lewis: The Project

Jack Bowers By

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When it came to handling a slide trombone, the late Frank Rosolino set the gold standard. Few players have managed even to come close to emulating what the incredible Mr. Rosolino was able to do. One who has is Andy Martin, an heir-apparent to Rosolino, Carl Fontana, J.J. Johnson and other acrobatic savants of the slide. True, the attack isn't as clean as Rosolino's (who remains in a class by himself), nor is there as much double and triple-tonguing, staples of Frank's matchless arsenal, but as bandleader/arranger Gordon Goodwin points out, Martin "...makes [playing the trombone] sound so easy.... His articulation is flawless, and he plays with a strong melodic sense, a beautiful sound and a great groove, no matter what the style.

Listening to The Project, an ambitious studio session that was conceived by one of Martin's staunchest admirers, British entrepreneur Vic Lewis, there's no other course than to second Goodwin's opinion. Martin's no Rosolino (the world may never see his like again), nor does he try to be; there can be no doubt, however, that he is one of the world's most accomplished Jazz trombonists, as he proves time and again on this scintillating tour de force.

Martin opens with Bill Holman's superb arrangement of Alec Wilder's "I'll Be Around, scored for big band, as are Tom Kubis's "Everything You Is (a.k.a. "All the Things ) and Gordon Goodwin's "So Close So Far. On "Wait Till You See Her, "It Never Entered My Mind and "Ballad of the Sad Young Men, Martin is backed by a small group and six-member string section conducted by long-time Metropole Orchestra maestro Rob Pronk, and on Goodwin's arresting treatment of Ivan Lins' "Love Dance he deftly employs overdubbing to become a five-member 'bone section (including bass), supported only by bassist Trey Henry and drummer Ray Brinker. The other numbers, "Kubis Shuffle and Martin's "Paz y Jazz," are performed by a sextet with tenor Pete Christlieb and trumpeter Bobby Shew sharing front-line duties.

As expected, Martin plays brilliantly throughout, enlivening every note, and even on those few occasions when his horn is all but submerged beneath cascading waves of brass, reeds, strings or rhythm, he strides firmly ahead and always manages to land on high ground. The Project is a splendid showcase for Martin's singular talents, marred only by cavernous acoustics and periodic lapses in mixing. On a scale of one to ten, a nine for Martin, eight for everyone else, but no better than a four or five for the sound.


Track Listing: I

Personnel: Andy Martin, trombone, bass trombone (2). Tracks 1, 6, 10

Title: The Project | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: DB Music


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