STRAYHORN: Lotus Blossom. JOBIM-NAZARIAN: Modinha. PARKER: Red Cross. GORDON-PHILLIPS: Fried Bananas. WALTON: Bolivia. VAN HEUSEN: I Thought About You.* ROMBERG-HAMMERSTEIN: Softly As in a Morning Sunrise*+ / Dave Young, bs; +Kevin Turcotte, tpt; +Perry White, t-sax; Renée Rosnes, *Bernie Senensky, pno; Reg Schwager, gtr; Terry Clarke, dm / Modica Music (no number), available on Apple Music, Spotify, GoBuz, Napster & Amazon Music Unlimited
This album is announced as being available on February 15 of this year, but I found it online released as of November 28 of last year, and the streaming services on which it appears (listed above) are mostly free for the offering. Dave Young is a veteran bassist of many decades whose work was highly praised by the late Oscar Peterson, and this album is a clear indication as to why he made that claim. In a traversal of mostly well-known jazz and pop standards (Dexter Gordon’s Fried Bananas and Cedar Walton’s Bolivia being rather less-well-known), Young plays with a rich, strong tone and an excellent ear for chord changes, and his talented bandmates are right there with him.
It’s the kind of old-fashioned jazz album that makes you smile. There are no tricks, gimmicks, or edgy atonal melodies to say “look at me, aren’t I hip?,” but rather rich pieces with good, solid chord changes and relaxed yet inventive solos. As usual, guitarist Reg Schwager plays in the soft style of most jazz guitarists nowadays but his solos are indeed interesting. Renée Rosnes’ piano solo on Modinha is also exceptionally good. Young’s bass solo, which follows, is equally fine.
The tempo picks up and the atmosphere becomes boppish in Charlie Parker’s Red Cross, yet the tempo is a bit slower and the swinging looser than on the original. Dexter Gordon’s Fried Bananas also swings in a loose fashion, with a particularly fine solo by Young and a good one by Schwager. Terry Clarke also gets in a rhythmically interesting drum solo here.
But the band really cooks the hottest on Bolivia, digging in and swinging hard. The piano solo is particularly good. On Jimmy van Heusen’s I Thought About You Rosnes sits out and Bernie Senensky is featured on piano. His playing is more laid-back, and swings, but for me was not quite as inventive as Rosnes—until his second chorus, where he really opened up.
As a surprise, trumpeter Kevin Turcotte and tenor saxist Perry White sit in on the closer, Softly as in a Morning Sunrise, a favorite of jazz musicians since the old Artie Shaw orchestra played it back in 1938. This version also swings but has a bit more modern jazz overtones, particularly in White’s tubular-toned solo which channels Sonny Rollins a bit. Young, thus challenged, comes up with yet another outstanding solo, and the ensemble ride-out is simply wonderful.
An excellent mainstream jazz CD, then, and fun to hear.
—© 2019 Lynn René Bayley
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