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Wycliffe Gordon and Jay Leonhart: This Rhythm On My Mind

Mark F. Turner By

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In times of social, political, and global challenges, music has always helped to ease the burdens of the people. Jazz artists such as trumpeter Louis Armstrong did more than just play instruments; they were also entertainers that spirited listeners into better times. This Rhythm On My Mind remembers those sentiments.

The recording features two prominent musicians—trombonist Wycliffe Gordon and bassist Jay Leonhart—who not only play their respective instruments with complete expertise, but also prove to be jazz troubadours with surprising, clever voices.

Gordon, one of today's premier trombonists, with tone and control that few peers can match, came to notoriety playing with trumpet icon Wynton Marsalis, and he's proven his merit all the more on his own recordings. Leonhart, an astute bassist, has performed in settings ranging from Dixieland banjo to swinging his axe in bands with Thad Jones, Mel Lewis and Tony Bennett. He's produced his own recordings and proven that it's not impossible to play the bass and sing at the same time.

The two collaborate wonderfully on these thirteen exuberant compositions, which are balanced by jazz and voice. The rapport shared by the two musicians is contagious as they perform and sing lighthearted anecdotes on love, loss, and friendship. Like the reunion of two long-lost friends who have a lot of catching up to do, the music covers a lot of ground—New Orleans swing ("Rhythm On My Mind"), blues humor ("I Want My Blooze Back"), and even a jail break ("Little Henry").

They throw in memorable tunes for good measure: "Missin RB Blues" is dedicated to the late bassist Ray Brown, and "Eddie Harris (Freedom Jazz Band)" features guest saxophonist Wayne Escoffery and Gordon playing an Australian didgeridoo. Infused with humor, harmony, scatting, vocal invention and excellent music, This Rhythm On My Mind is an enjoyable experience.

Track Listing: Rhythm on My Mind; Problem; I Want My Blooz Back; Mr Leonhart Mr Gordon; Mood Indigo; Toast My Bread; Eddie Harris (Freedom Jazz Dance); Missin RB Blues; Lester Leaps In; All Alone; Little Honey; Lucky Day; Home for Supper.

Personnel: Wycliffe Gordon: trombone, tuba, vocals, didjeridu; Jay Leonhart: bass, vocals; Jim Saporito: percussion (11); Henry Allen: tenor sax (9); Wayne Escoffery: tenor sax (7).

Title: This Rhythm On My Mind | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Bluesback Records

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