With such notable exceptions as Julius Watkins, Tom Varner and Willie Ruff, the French Horn has not made a large splash as a solo jazz instrument. Often found in orchestras, such as Claude Thornhill's, or in small groups, it adds a distinctive mellow, melodic harmonic substance to the music. Contemporary and classic horn player, Richard Todd, has taken the instrument into a chamber setting for his initial foray into the world of jazz recording, with a smattering of interesting results to say the least. He is joined in this undertaking by a rotating cast of eminent jazz artists, including bassist John Clayton, Billy Childs on piano, Steve Huffsteter on trumpet and Ralph Penland on drums. Also present are a variety of other instruments including the vibes, tuba, harp and accordion. Given the chamber setting, the trick is to make each track sufficiently different to retain the interest of the listener. Even in the world of classical music, chamber music can only take an audience so far before there is a yen for high spirited symphonic stuff. I'm afraid that is what happens here. There are some incredibly beautiful, mellifluous moments on this disk, such as a deeply felt, haunting version of "Emily". Billy Childs helps by bringing his post bop orientation to such cuts as "Quiet Time" and a coy sassiness to "Central Avenue Strut" where Todd's horn takes on the feel of a trombone. Matters move closer to the classical end of the spectrum when David Raksin appears to conduct a small group in his "A Song After Sundown". One tour de force tracks is a Todd/Clayton duet on "`Round Midnight". While all the music, including the Todd originals, has merit, it does get a bit solemn and heavy after a while. Todd tries hard to advance the French Horn as a legitimate jazz solo instrument. But while there are some very good moments on this album, the limitations of the instrument make his task very imposing indeed.
Nightwalk; Discovery; A Song After Sundown; Central Avenue Strut; Quiet Time; Emily; Days of Wine and Roses; Race; `Round Midnight; In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning
Richard Todd - French Horn; Billy Childs - Piano; David Carpenter, Chuck Domanico, John Clayton - Bass; Steve Huffsteter - Trumpet; Dan Higgins - Sax; Ralph Penland - Drums; Alan Estes - Vibes/Quiro; Lenny Castro - Congas; Michael Lang, Alan Pasqua - Piano; Tim May - Guitar; Bob Zimmitti - Vibes; Tommy Johnson - Tuba; David Raksin - Conductor; Frank Marocco - Accordion; Marcia Dickstein - Harp
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.
Get more of a good thing
Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.