Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Brian Lynch Salutes Some Undeservedly Obscure Jazz Trumpet Heroes

More musicians should be doing what trumpeter Brian Lynch has done with his Unsung Heroes series, “a tribute to some underappreciated trumpet masters.” Lynch has created the series – now a trio of albums, available for download along with extensive liner notes at www.holisticmusicworks.com – to regenerate interest in several unjustly underrated or even forgotten horn greats. Volume 2 – streaming in its entirety at Lynch’s Bandcamp page– is also now out on cd featuring the trumpeter alongside Vincent Herring on alto sax, Alex Hoffman on tenor sax, Rob Schneiderman on piano, David Wong on bass and Pete Van Nostrand on drums. Lynch’s tribute emphasizes his obscure greats’ tunesmithing, eschewing explosive cadenzas and garish displays of extended technique in favor of a sometimes clear, sometimes balmy tone and a purist lyricism, in the tradition, rooted in the blues. In a more expansive sense, what Lynch is doing here is a more long-form take on the jukebox style of jazz that JD Allen has revitalized lately. Long, expansive takes give the band a chance to stretch out and take their time with them, resulting in the kind of relaxed, soulful playing that all too often gets lost in the frantic scramble to wrap up a recording date these days.

Tommy Turrentine’s It Could Be kicks off this volume, a nonchalantly catchy swing tune, Herring’s alto solo coalescing out of bop flurries and handing off to Lynch, who takes it in a steadily lyrical direction as he does throughout the album. Among the handful of quartet numbers here, the standout is Joe Gordon’s slow, balmy ballad Heleen, which the band methodically work their way into gentle, matter-of-fact wee-hours swing. Sandy, by Howard McGhee goes from complicated to bright, carefree and bluesy, Lynch adding some energetic doublestops when he’s not running eights, Hoffman following with a bobbing, weaving attack.

The first of three Idrees Sulieman tunes, Short Steps follows a similar path from enigmatic to brighter, Schneiderman’s terse piano handing off to Lynch’s balmy atmospherics as it winds out. Sulieman’s Out/Dancing Shoes has the whole ensemble leaping around drum breaks with an agile grin. The last of his songs, Orange Blossoms is cast as a slow summery ballad with an undercurrent of unease; Lynch’s long, wary, steady grey-skies solo is his best on this album  Lynch’s own Marissa’s Mood, a jump blues, portays Lynch’s wife as graceful, agile and fun  And oldschool – this is a hit!

Lynch’s advocacy for Turrentine is particularly forceful in the wistful, nostalgic ballad Gone But Not Forgotten, which in a fair world would be a standard. ‘Nother Never, a Lynch original dedicated to Louis Smith, gets a lively trumpet/drums intro, a lickety-split swing and then an almost dixieland bustle. They close much the way they started with Donald Byrd’s I’m So Excited By You, resisting the urge to swing it as hard as they can til midway through, Lynch playfully jousting with Van Nostrand on the way out.

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November 9, 2013 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Benny Sharoni’s Retro Jazz Is a Hit

The last jazz album we reviewed was noisy, frenetic and half rock. This one is all melody, laid-back and gorgeously oldschool. It’s one of those sleeper albums that you can put on and fool your snob friends with – just tell them it’s a rare reissue from fifty years ago, and most of them will buy it. Boston-based tenor saxophonist Benny Sharoni assembled a first-rate band to join him in a convivially expansive, purist mood on his new album Eternal Elixir. Joey “Sonny” Barbato (whose 2006 cd Crackerjack is a genuine classic and one of the finest of its rare kind, an accordion jazz album) plays piano here, joined by Barry Ries on trumpet, Mike Mele on guitar, Todd Baker on bass and Steve Langone on drums, with Kyle Aho taking over the 88s on four of the tracks. The vibe here is retro in a refreshing way: it feels like one of those early 60s Impulse albums, driven by camaraderie rather than showboating, the kind of date players record because they have something they think is worth capturing, rather than simply to satisfy the terms of a label deal.

The album opens with Bernstein, Sharoni’s propulsive tribute to the conductor/composer, Barbato’s fluidly precise runs echoed by Sharoni further on. French Spice, a tastily catchy Donald Byrd tune from 1961 that moves deftly from hypnotic pulse to proto-funk to straight-up swing and back again, Sharoni taking his cue from Wayne Shorter’s casually soulful performance on that song (as he does on another Byrd composition here, an understated version of the vampy Pentecostal Feelin’). Barbato’s terse, understated solo turns with a grin from blithe to bluesy in a split second. The version of Estate here mutes its bossa origins, recasting it as slow swing and stripping it down to its inner soul with aptly summery, almost minimalist solos from Barbato and then Sharoni. Likewise, the band breathes new life into Bobby Hebb’s Sunny as a latin jazz number, a launching pad for some lively melismas and trills from Ries and some impressively straight-up blues from Aho.

Benito’s Bossa Bonita, an original gets the same casually comfortable, easy-wearing swing of Estate, with a couple of especially choice, effortlessly congenial solos from Sharoni and a terse conversation between Aho’s piano and Baker’s bass. To Life, based on the 1964 Cannonball Adderley version, maintains the laid-back bluesy mood, Ries (with a mute) and then Sharoni gimlet-eyed and content while Barbato keeps watch with sharp, incisively staccato chords. Another original, Cakes, sways with a distant Donald Fagen feel (Sharoni is a fan, having discovered Steely Dan as solace during his mandatory tour of duty in the Israeli army, a low point in his life), and a moody, reverb-tinged Mele solo. The album winds up with The Thing to Do, a cagy, swinging Blue Mitchell tune from 1964 and Senor Papaya, which takes its title from Sharoni’s papaya-grower father back home in Israel. Sharoni admits it’s quite ironic since Sr. Papaya himself is so laid-back and the song anything but. The Benny Sharoni Quartet plays Fridays in August at 8:30 PM at Winslow’s Tavern in Wellfleet, Massachusetts.

August 5, 2010 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment