2006, Rasputin Manifesto
Last month, the newly-launched Kind of Blue label had a disc by Maucha Adnet reviewed here. Just like that tastefully superb collection of Jobim compositions, this new project led by trumpeter Eddie Henderson delivers on the promise of this great new jazz label, with a couple of caveats. Henderson and pianist Kevin Hays, bassist Ed Howard and drummer Billy Hart recorded a program of mostly light, straight-ahead compositions ranging from standards like "Dear Old Stockholm" and "Unforgettable," to a couple of originals written by Henderson's wife, Natsuko (the title track and "Around The World in 3/4"). "Unforgettable" is actually kind of a snoozer on this recording, but the two Wayne Shorter compositions - "Dance Cadaverous" and "Wild Flower" - perk the disc back up again after the Irving Gordon detour. The closing "Silent Night" is a strange choice, and the synth sound effects are an unpleasant distraction. Thumbs up to Billy Hart, though, for a fine backbeat, a la "It's About That Time." A gentle touch of reverb gives the album a vintage feel, circa 1959, which is perfect for Henderson's faithful rendition of "Blue In Green." How appropriate!
The Criss Cross label has been a playground for more than a few Wynton Marsalis associates, and among the latest is this new set led by trombonist Gordon. He is joined by fellow Marsalis alumni Reginald Veal (bass) and Herlin Riley (drums), as well as newcomers Stacy Dillard (sax) and Johnny O'Neal (piano). Half of the compositions are Gordon originals, while the remainder of the program revisits Bird ("Blues For Alice's Freight Train"), Trane ("Mister P.C."), etc. Basically, if you're familiar with Wynton's recordings, or any of the other heavily blues-based recordings of his sidemen that are played straight, you'll likely be diggin' this one too.
Greene, playing tenor and soprano sax, leads a very creative session here, eschewing traditional jazz forms and trying his hand at multi-sectional compositions. "Song For Isaiah" is the best representation of the fruits of his labor, coming off like a long Weather Report-style piece played by a straight-ahead acoustic jazz quintet. Elsewhere, "My Idea" finds Greene dueting with pianist Xavier Davis, and the full quintet merges a zippy version of Thelonious Monk's "Evidence" with Greene's "True Life Stories," giving bassist Reuben Rogers plenty of room to stretch out while drummer Eric Harland provides some exciting running commentary on his instrument.
The cover art is reminiscent of those dinky CD bootlegs for which we used to pay $25-$30 a piece back in the early to mid '90s, but the recording quality is top-notch. This previously unreleased concert recording is classic Rahsaan, wild, searching, celebratory and full of chaotic life. With his hyper genius channeled through his tenor sax, as well as flute, nose flute, manzello, stritch and clarinet Rahsaan is joined by pianist Ron Burton, bassist Henry Pete Pearson, drummer Richie Goldberg and percussionist Joe Texidor. They rip through a ferocious rendition of "Like Sonny," and offer unique takes on Bread's pop hit "Make It With You" and the Temptations' "My Girl." Mongo Santamaria's "Afro Blue" and John Coltrane's "Blue Train" close the set, recorded in Frankfurt, Germany, back in 1972. Turn this one up really loud, because your neighbors deserve to partake in Rahsaan's wild stage party too.