The majority of trumpeter Joe Magnarelli's leader dates have been no-nonsense, straight ahead quintet outings, so on the surface, it might appear that he's settled into something of a rut. But appearances can be deceiving. Only those who haven't heard Magnarelli's albums would think such a thing. For with each one, he's managed to peel back another layer, revealing new aspects of his artistic persona while also building on his previous work. Magnarelli is living proof that you don't need to chase trends or get caught up in haughty conceptualizing in order to prove your worth in the jazz universe.
Three On Twohis second date for Posi-Tone, eleventh album overalltakes its name from the horn-to-rhythm ratio here, with Magnarelli, trombonist Steve Davis and alto saxophonist Mike DiRubbo out front, and organist Brian Charette and drummer Rudy Royston bolstering from below. It's another straight-down-the-middle date, and it's a doozy. There's groove-morphing music ("Three On Two"), comfortable swing ("Easy"), hip funk ("NYC-J-Funk"), a waltz-esque Cedar Walton number ("Clockwise") a pair of oft-covered John Coltrane classics ("26-2" and "Central Park West"), a closing nod to Claude Debussy ("My Reverie"), and more. And while much of the music may be made to tried-and-true constructional code (i.e. head-solos-head), it's anything but mundane. Hearing the horn soloists charge ahead over the driving rhythm team of Charette and Royston ("Paris"), experiencing the chemistry at play, and listening to the unfolding of the solos is exciting as can be.
All three horn players are well-suited to one another and the music at hand. They harmonize beautifully, deliver tight unison lines, and speak in similar stylistic tongues when they take off for their solo flights. Charette and Royston, likewise, fit the scenario, but they're both wildcards, capable of startling the listener with their boisterous behavior. Both the horns and the rhythm men are essential parts of this musical equation, and, despite the playful album title, they shouldn't really be seen as separate entities. This is a high-powered, fully-integrated quintet, not a group with role-made rifts.
Three On Two; Easy; The Step Up; NYC-J-Funk; 26-2; Clockwise; Paris; Central Park West; Outlet Pass; My Reverie.
Joe Magnarelli: trumpet; Steve Davis: trombone; Mike DiRubbo: alto saxophone; Brian Charette: organ; Rudy Royston: drums.
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