Sometimes jazz as art does not have to solve the world's problems, just bring a bit of joy to an otherwise tired and dismayed soul, especially in this day and age. This Rhythm On My Mindan antidote to the mundane and the depressingaccomplishes just that, but instead of using, say, energy to conquer the blues, it blows fresh air and spreads sunshine.
Comparing trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, who also plays tuba and didjeridoo, to Louis Armstrong is a no-brainer, since he exudes the same good-natured vibe, but also add the same grit and vocalisms that Satchmo was known for. Bassist Jay Leonhart plays the happiest bass on the planet and (it seems) that he really can sing and play at the same time, both following his own lines and the melody.
Of the thirteen tunes, four are Gordon originals, six are originals from Leonhart, and the remaining three comprise two warhorses ("Mood Indigo" and "Lester Leaps In") and an unusual choice in "Eddie Harris (Freedom Jazz Dance)," on which the didjeridoo appears. Tenorist Wayne Escoffery also appears on the latter tune, while Harry Allen's tenor sax enlivens "Lester Leaps In" and Jim Saporito adds percussion to "Little Henry."
Gordon and Leonhart's extreme professionalism, compatibility and sheer good nature win the day on this releaseso much so that the lack of instrumentation is not apparent. Plus, both men can sing very, very well.
The fact that the Eddie Harris tune (with lyrics by Leonhart) is positioned in the middle of the album is interesting, since this track is the most complicated, and hence arguably the most interesting. The music comes out of left field and is completely surprising and refreshing.
Rhythm on My Mind;
I Want My Blooz Back;
Mr Leonhart Mr Gordon;
Toast My Bread;
Eddie Harris (Freedom Jazz Dance);
Missin RB Blues;
Lester Leaps In;
Home for Supper.
Wycliffe Gordon: trombone, tuba, vocals, didjeridu;
Jay Leonhart: bass, vocals;
Jim Saporito: percussion (11);
Henry Allen: tenor sax (9);
Wayne Escoffery: tenor sax (7).