REMINISCENCE / FEDCHOCK: The Third Degree. Loose Change. Brazilian Fantasy.* JOHNSON: Lament. REDDING: The End of a Love Affair. WARREN-DUBIN: You’re My Everything. DAMERON: If You Could See Me Now / John Fedchock, tb; John Toomey, pno; Jimmy Masters, bs; Dave Ratajczak, *Billy Williams, dm / Summit DCD 735
Veteran jazz trombonist John Fedchock, who has led a New York Big Band for several years, here presents his playing in a quartet setting. Some of these tracks were recorded in 2015 and left over from his album Fluidity, while others were newly taped to fill out this CD. “In some instances,” he writes, “the music was newer material, and in other cases, it was just informal blowing tunes to give the group a chance to play without the pressure of any agenda.” Some tracks are live while other were studio-recorded.
Fedchock is an outstanding trombonist whose style combines elements of J.J. Johnson, whose Lament is included on the album, and a bit of Jimmy Knepper, though his technique is smoother than the latter’s playing. He is clearly a superb technician as well as a fine improviser, as the tracks on this set show. As a jazz composer, his work is fairly standard, straightahead jazz, although well constructed and beautifully played.
One thing that struck me, particularly in the first two tracks, was that Fedchock dominated the solo space. This is not entirely a bad thing, as he is a wonderful player, but I would have liked a bit more equality among the soloists, particularly since John Toomey is clearly a fine pianist, although both he and bassist Masters get full-chorus solos on Loose Change. Needless to say, the leader plays Johnson’s lovely tune Lament beautifully, particularly in his double-time solo. As the album progresses, thankfully, the others in the quartet get their say.
Fedchock’s solo trombone intro to Tadd Dameron’s If You Could See Me Now is particularly excellent, and everyone in the group sparkles on Brazilian Fantasy, particularly Toomey with a nice crossed-hand passage in his piano solo.
In sum, this is what I’d call a good, old-fashioned blowing date of the kind that used to be common in the best jazz clubs across the country. It’s jazz with a spine and good vibes in which the entire group participate and the audience can sit back, relax, and enjoy the proceedings without too many obstacles such as irregular meters or quickly-morphing chord patterns.
—© 2018 Lynn René Bayley
Follow me on Twitter or Facebook @Artmusiclounge