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Tommy Igoe: The Tommy Igoe Groove Conspiracy

Dan Bilawsky By

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Jazz audiences in the Bay Area are starting to realize what their New York counterparts have known for years—namely, that drummer Tommy Igoe puts together a hell of a band and puts on a hell of a show.

Igoe, the man who gave rhythmic life to Broadway's The Lion King and changed the face of drum set pedagogy with his Groove Essentials books, has been tearing it up on Friday nights with The Birdland Big Band since 2006; now he's out to conquer the other coast. Igoe still drops in at Birdland when he can, living something of a bicoastal performing life, but he's been turning more heads of late with this killer outfit which performs every Tuesday night at Yoshi's in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The eponymous debut from The Tommy Igoe Groove Conspiracy has everything that fans have come to expect from this drumming phenom's bands: inventive arrangements of well-known material, unearthed gems, unadulterated swing, chops-y drum breaks, incredibly tight ensemble work, and scintillating solos. Add to that a list of superb guests, including trumpeter Randy Brecker and percussionist Karl Perazzo, and it's clear that a wild ride awaits.

The album kicks off with a Tedd Firth arrangements of "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" that's a bit glitzier and glossier than the norm. But as the piece plays out, it becomes clear that fire and soul still win out. Next up is Firth's take on Bob Berg's "Friday Night At The Cadillac Club," a jumping number that wouldn't feel out of place on a Brian Setzer record. As the album unfolds, the band moves in other directions, tackling a Joshua Redman tune, giving space to vocalist Kenny Washington on "Let The Good Times Roll" and "I Didn't Know What Time It Was," roaring through Mike Rinta's "Plan B," and spinning out a pair of Latin numbers—"Aquele Um" and "Caprichosos De La Habana."

Igoe and the guests deliver as expected throughout, but the contributions from saxophonists Marc Russo and Tom Politzer prove equally noteworthy. Russo is the embodiment of exuberance, bringing light, soul and power to his every soaring utterance, and Politzer digs in and creates interesting twists whenever he steps into the spotlight. Other horn players have an opportunity to shine at one time or another, but those two are the scene-stealers.

It's easy to see why Igoe has been able to capture attention with this band. The Tommy Igoe Groove Conspiracy kicks, punches, grooves, and sways in all the right ways.

Track Listing: Mercy, Mercy, Mercy; Friday Night At The Cadillac Club; Jazz Crimes; Let The Good Times Roll; Aquele Um; Jessica's Day; Caprichosos De La Habana; I Didn't Know What Time It Was; Plan B; Quarter Master.

Personnel: Tommy Igoe: drums, programming; Dewayne Pate: bass; Colin Hogan: piano; Drew Zingg: guitar; Louis Fasman: trumpet, flugelhorn; Steffen Kuehn: trumpet, flugelhorn; Dave Len Scott: trumpet, flugelhorn; Nick Ciardelli: trumpet, flugelhorn; John Gove: trombone;Jeanne Geiger: trombone; Mike Rinta: bass trombone; Marc Russo: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone; Tom Politzer: tenor saxophone; Alex Murzyn: tenor saxophone, alto saxophone; Aaron Lington: baritone saxophone; Randy Brecker: trumpet (9); Kenny Washington: vocals; James Genus: bass (1); Michael League: bass (10); Karl Perazzo: Latin pecussion (8, 10); Scott Kettner: Brazilian percussion (5, 7).

Title: The Tommy Igoe Groove Conspiracy | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Deep Rhythm Music

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