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Adonis Rose: The Unity

C. Andrew Hovan By

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With enough fodder to serve as a thesis or research paper, someday someone will look into the correlation that finds trumpeters often serving as the most significant jazz leaders in the history of the music. Just dropping the names Louis Armstrong, Clifford Brown, and Miles Davis will prove the point. In more recent times we would have to add the names Roy Hargrove and Nicholas Payton. So what does this have to do with Adonis Rose? Well, Rose is a key member of Payton's quintet and for his second date as a leader he once again has chosen to take over leadership of Nick and the guys. It's a sagacious move because these gents are a working band and you can tell, with telepathic interplay and ensembles as tight as a baby's bottom.

It would make for an interesting comparison to stack Payton's Verve sides alongside The Unity and Rose's debut, A Song For Donise, as while the trumpeter's sphere of influences takes in everything from New Orleans gumbo to funk and beyond, The Unity, in particular, has a marked Miles Davis influence circa 1966. This point is further enforced by the inclusion of Wayne Shorter's "Dolores" and Rose's "Prince of the Night," whose title and melody sound vaguely Milesian in nature.

Group interplay is particularly strong throughout, with Payton's searing intensity and tenor saxophonist Tim Warfield's crying tone a match as perfect as, well, Davis and Shorter. Rose proves to be a confident leader and while there are some amazing pyrotechnics from the drummer, he's clearly more interested in the overall musicality of each performance than in displays of his solo artistry.

Warfield's influence is detected in what is arguably the highlight of the entire set, a majestic and uncharacteristic reading of "I Remember You." Taken at a slow ballad tempo and backed simply by Rose's shimmering cymbals, Warfield delivers that lush and breathy attack of his that has become a signature and the shivers literally course through the body. Such depth of feeling separates the men from the boys. A truly profound performance by any standard.

Often times we can't see the forest for the trees. As sad as the passing of so many jazz greats over the past few months has been, let us not forget that there are gentlemen like Rose, Payton, and Warfield who have the talent to become our next generation of jazz heroes if we just provide them the support they so richly deserve. Enough said.


Track Listing: Prince of the Night, Dolores, The Unity, Tonk, Anna Maria, I Remember You, Smooth Jazz (58:15)

Personnel: Adonis Rose- drums, Nicholas Payton- trumpet, Tim Warfield- tenor sax, Anthony Wonsey- piano, Reuben Rogers- bass

Title: The Unity | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Criss Cross


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