Russ Musto, New York City Jazz Record

Bassist Dezron Douglas has proven himself to be a most capable bandleader with considerable abilities as a composer. Mentored by Jackie McLean, he came up through the saxophonist’s Artists Collective where he received training emphasizing the arts and culture of the African Diaspora. The original music on this six-track EP, performed by his Black Lion sextet, several members of which share his Hartford, Connecticut background, reflects the strength and diversity stemming from McLean and the Collective’s guidance.

The band with trumpeter Josh Evans, alto saxophonist Lummie Spann, tenor saxophonist Stacey Dillard, keyboard player Willerm Delisfort and drummer Jeremy “Bean” Clemons gets things started with potent “Soulris”. It begins with a dark solo bass introduction before swirling organ enters to provide solid underpinning for the kaleidoscopic blowing of the horns, after which Delisfort moves over to piano for a swinging solo over walking bass, then switching back to organ for a reprise of the powerful theme. David Bryant replaces Delisfort in the piano chair on “Negroidius Maximum”; this funky outing, dedicated to Douglas’ Cyrus Chestnut Trio bandmate Neal Smith, recalls the soul of James Brown and modal sophistication of Eddie Harris in a feature for Dillard.

Bryant remains for “Bottoms Out”, an anthem on which he shares solo duties with Dillard, Spann and Clemons. Delisfort returns and Douglas switches to electric bass on “Alexis”, a dedication to harpist Brandee Younger. Organ and electric bass are at the heart of “Great Provider”, a reggae piece reflecting the bandleader’s Caribbean heritage and featuring wailing alto. Bryant returns on piano and Douglas is back on acoustic bass for the concluding “Uhuru Vibration”, which, like the opening “Soulris”, begins with a solo bass introduction giving way to the lyrical theme and potent soloing by Dillard, Bryant and Clemons, closing with the horns’ collectively blown exit.

For more information, visit Douglas is at Irish Arts Center Apr. 18th as part of a Wayne Shorter tribute and Smalls Apr. 22nd with Joe Dyson. 

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