221

One For All: Upward and Onward

C. Andrew Hovan By

Sign in to view read count
The economic constraints of keeping a jazz ensemble together are such that we've almost seen the disappearance of working bands. That is indeed a grievous situation since the jazz pedigree has so often been marked by historically-important groups. Just consider the Basie and Ellington bands, not to mention the classic John Coltrane Quartet and several premium units under the leadership of Miles Davis, to get an idea of the sorcery inherent in such familial settings. Much credit is therefore due to the group One For All, a powerhouse sextet that evolved out of drummer Joe Farnsworth's regular NYC gigs at Augie's (now called Smoke Jazz Club) and has been active since their 1997 debut on the Sharp Nine label.

Upward and Onward is the group's third disc to date and first for Criss Cross Jazz and what is remarkable, among many other things, is that these extremely busy men, leaders in their own right, still find time to get together for gigs and record dates. Eric Alexander is one of the most in-demand young tenor men on the New York scene, while trumpeter Jim Rotondi, trombonist Steve Davis and pianist David Hazeltine can be found working as estimable sidemen when not leading their own groups. Round it out with bassist Peter Washington, a modern-day Paul Chambers in terms of the number of recordings he's been on, and the seasoned drummer Farnsworth and you have a hard bop superband that just won't quit.

Taking nothing away from its distinguished predecessors, Upward and Onward is far and away the best the group has caught on tape to date. Worth the price of admission alone is Hazeltine's funky "We All Love Eddie Harris," eleven minutes of pure bump and grind, with Alexander demonstrating how effortlessly he can blow in the upper register. The writing from Alexander, Hazeltine, and Davis is especially persuasive, with the latter's "Epitome" a ballad gem that testifies to how artful a writer this gentleman truly is. Another highlight has to be the recovery of Clifford Jordan's "John Coltrane." Not heard of since Jordan first cut it on a rare Strata East date decades ago, it's the type of meaty piece that finds these guys just eating up the changes. Hat's off to whoever suggested bringing this one out of the mothballs, while simultaneously avoiding the billionth take of "Summertime" or "My Funny Valentine" to boot!

On the pure technical side, let it be said that Criss Cross' decision to move their sessions to Brooklyn's Systems Two Studios has meant an improvement in sonics that even surpasses engineer Max Bolleman's already high standards. The holographic impact of the drums alone is simply a marvel, with Farnsworth and Billy Drummond probably having the best "sounds" of any drummers currently being recorded.

As a cure for the "retro" blues, One For All proves that you can have your cake and eat it too. The tradition doesn't have to be stifling as long as you mine it with depth and an individual voice. That, in a nutshell, is what this disc is all about.


Track Listing: D's Blues, Perspective, We All Love Eddie Harris, Epitome, Just By Myself, John Coltrane, Blues For Joe Don, Upward and Onward (65:24)

Personnel: Eric Alexander- tenor saxophone, Jim Rotondi- trumpet, Steve Davis- trombone, David Hazeltine- piano, Peter Washington- bass, Joe Farnsworth- drums

| Record Label: Criss Cross | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read Desire & Freedom CD/LP/Track Review Desire & Freedom
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 19, 2017
Read On Hollywood Boulevard CD/LP/Track Review On Hollywood Boulevard
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Motorman's Son CD/LP/Track Review The Motorman's Son
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 18, 2017
Read "Les Indignés" CD/LP/Track Review Les Indignés
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 3, 2016
Read "Trio Miami" CD/LP/Track Review Trio Miami
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 8, 2016
Read "Shoebox View" CD/LP/Track Review Shoebox View
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 26, 2016
Read "El Toro" CD/LP/Track Review El Toro
by Roger Farbey
Published: November 20, 2016
Read "Mind Behind Closed Eyes" CD/LP/Track Review Mind Behind Closed Eyes
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: November 22, 2016
Read "Southern Avenue" CD/LP/Track Review Southern Avenue
by James Nadal
Published: February 10, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!