"Wobbly Dance Flower" is the title of one of the tracks on this CD but it also captures the frisky, goofy vibe of the entire disc. Trumpeter John Daversa writes sophisticated music with catchy melodies that share the off-beat, slightly wacky humor of musicians like Matt Wilson and Jack Walrath.
The sounds and approaches on Wobbly Dance Flower change constantly, sometimes within the same composition. The opening "Ms. Turkey" has a super-fast stop-start boppish melody powered by Joe Bagg's organ that gives Daversa and saxophonist Bob Mintzer room for battering solos. Conversely Charlie Parker's "Donna Lee," usually a fast tune, is slowed down to a cool and mellow tempo allowing Daversa to glide over the organ before Mintzer takes things up at a faster tempo on bass clarinet over electric piano.
"Be Free" starts as a calypso melody with a hint of Thelonious Monk. Then Daversa vaults over murmuring organ and guitar, Bagg rises into a simmering, eerie solo and Mintzer yelps on tenor. All the while Gene Coye pushes the beat on his drums like Tony Williams in his Miles Davis days. "Brooklyn Still" is a gorgeous bit of soulful slow walking with fine greasy tenor by Mintzer, the title track is happy Latin- Caribbean party music and "Jazz Heads" has the easy-swinging gait of a mid-tempo Count Basie dance number with muted trumpet and bass clarinet keeping things playful and relaxed.
"Meet Me At The Airport" states a dizzying theme featuring spiraling organ and honking tenor. Then Daversa cuts loose with fast-fingered up-tempo blues and Mintzer, Bagg and even bassist Jerry Watts follow with similarly swaggering solos. "You Got A Puppy!?" is a speeding rush of sound played by everyone in unison before Daversa, Mintzer and guitarist Zane Carney trade breakneck solos. It all ends with "Extra Credit," a frenzied blast of dueling wind synthesizers I could have listened to for another 2 or 3 minutes.
John Daversa's music is full of energy and personality. It's got a sense of humor and enough elements of blues and soul to make it really relatable. "Brooklyn Still" and "Jazz Heads," in particular, are memorable tunes that deserve to be looked at by other musicians. This CD is an enjoyable and fun surprise.
Ms. Turkey, Donna Lee, Be Free, Brooklyn Still, Wobbly Dance Flower,
Jazz Heads, Meet Me At The Airport, You Got A Puppy? Extra Credit
John Daversa - Trumpet, EVI
Bob Mintzer - Tenor Sax, Bass Clarinet, EWI
Zane Carney - Guitar
Joe Bagg - Piano, Hammond B3 Organ
Jerry Watts, Jr. - Bass, U-Bass
Gene Coye - Drums