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Here’s a fast–paced blowing session by a trio (and sometimes a quartet) of eager young neo–boppers from Charlotte, North Carolina, who redeem in spontaneity what they may lack in seasoning or finesse. While the vocabulary hasn’t yet fully matured, one has the feeling they are at least engaging in a series of impromptu conversations whose scope or outcome wasn’t prearranged. In the vernacular, they let it all hang out. McCloud, who attended the University of North Texas, is a full–throated stomper (think Johnny Griffin or Lockjaw Davis) who also likes to plumb the upper reaches of his horn in the manner of such contemporary tenor spokesmen as, for example, Lew Tabackin, Joe Lovano or James Carter. His colleagues, Weaver and Sullivan, seem to relish brisker tempos too, and even on a tune like Weaver’s “Relaxin’” the mood is more frenetic than relaxed. Weaver also wrote “The Smoker” (alternate takes of which open and close the session), “#4” and “Professional Person,” while McCloud weighed in with “Don’t Leave Mad, Just Leave” and “Cuts Like a Spoon.” Ellington/Tizol’s “Caravan,” whose loping cadences are as subdued as anything on the disc, rounds out the program and includes the best work of guest trumpeter Thornton, who also sits in on “Don’t Leave Mad” and “Relaxin’.” The originals are respectable if generic, and while McCloud’s trio is a work in progress, destined in due course to soften and align its rougher edges, there’s an earnestness to its recorded debut that obscures blemishes and lets the exuberance shine through. The talent is there, and so long as these gentlemen keep on having fun, as they are on this date, everything else should soon fall neatly into place.
Track listing: The Smoker; Don’t Leave Mad, Just Leave*; Cuts Like a Spoon; Relaxin’*; #4; Caravan*; Professional Person; The Smoker (alternate take) (51:45).
Scott McCloud, tenor saxophone; Ryan G. Weaver, Hammond B