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Trombonist Shawn Bell wants to sate the appetite of avid brass lovers with his Things Yet Unknown. He hosts a trombone/trumpet (or flugelhorn) frontline quintet that is, at once, smooth and bright. This slim release comprises seven selections, five of which are original compositions. Bell is a conservative sort, opting to mostly stay in the mainstream; however, he does get an impulse to color outside the lines also.
The disc begins with the diptych of Bell's title cut and the standard "You Stepped Out of a Dream." Both possess an edgy anxious mood characteristic of the emotionally conflicted hard bop-becoming-post bop. Bell solos reflect his conservative approach, being well-constructed and determined. Bell's rhythm sectionpianist Ross Margitza, bassist Nate Brown and drummer Samuel Jewellprovide the band's wheels and engine. Margitza's soloing recalls a bit of Horace Silver throughout the disc.
Bell's quaint and pliant style is immediately likable, providing great leadership for the recording date. Bell's ballad, "When I Cry," exudes lament and loss, mixing in Jonathan McQuade's mellow flugelhorn like whisky in an Irish coffee. "In the Wee Small Hours" is given an almost retro treatment, with Brown spinning off two solo choruses in fuzzy circular tones, and Bell sharpening the definition of those same tones into an almost New Orleans vibe.
Shawn Bell's vision for jazz is one of accessibility and enjoyability. His playing and arrangements are effective both as jazz vehicles and examples of how conservatively wrought jazz can still be both interesting and vital without the obnoxiousness of much of modern jazz.
Track Listing: Things Yet Unknown; You Stepped Out of a Dream; When I Cry; In The
Wee Small Hours; Requiem for Lovers; Lost Pursuit; Flow.
Personnel: Shawn Bell: trombone; Quentin Coaxum; trumpet; Jonathan McQuade:
flugelhorn; Ross Margitza: piano; Nathan Brown: bass; Samuel Jewell:
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.