By George Harris, Jazz Weekly
Vintage hard bop reminiscent of classic Blue Note era Jazz Messengers is on display with brothers Zaccai/p and Luques/b Curti team up with vets Ralph Peterson/dr, Donald Harrison/as and Brian Lynch/tp for a hip night at Connecticut’s The Side Door Jazz Club.
It sure doesn’t hurt that Harrison and Lynch are alumni of the hard bop schools of Art Blakey and Horace Silver respectively, and they show their allegiance throughout the night, flexing their muscles with the rhythm team on “Three Points and a Sphere” and flowing with the “Poinciana”-esque cadence of “Phi” with Peterson lithe on the ride cymbal. Lynch rides the percussion avalanche like a long boarder on the Afro Cuban “Parametric” and Harrison is fierce on the fiery “Manifest Density.” As for the brothers, Luques is expressive as he supports Lynch during “The Professor” as Zaccai does a hip trio work with brother Luques and Peterson on the nimble “Torus.” These gents got bop in their bones, and the marrow is rich throughout.
A pair of gents on the tenor sax trying to mix modern moods with classic tones.
Chase Baird assembles a supergroup with all star pianist Brad Mehldau, super drummer Antonio Sanchez, forward thinking guitarist Nir Felder and strong toned bassist Dan Chmielinski for post modern interpretations. Baird veers toward hard and almost acid rock with Felder on edgy pieces like the muscular “Ripcord” and aggressive “Wait and See,” but he always ends up on swinging on his feet.Some fuzzy and mechanical sounding bass and guitar evoke images of King Crimson on “Reactor” and “In The Wake (of urban overdrive)” yet Mehldau’s lyricism pulls the band out of the avalanche and into saver waters. Sanchez and Baird sway wonderfully on “As You Are” with the leader at his most Ben Websterian with Mehldau on the breathy “Im Wunderschonen Monat Mai.” A tug of war that ends in a draw.
Ben Flocks plays mostly tenor with a dash of soprano with guitarist Ari Chersky, bassist Martin Nevin, drummer Evan Hughes and Fran LoCrasto,who plays just about anything with keys on this album that oozes with nostalgia. Flocks has an old school tone, reminiscent of vintage Dexter Gordon in its palpability, kitschy with Chersky on the bel canto “Shangri-La” and 50s ish “Duende” or blowing smoke rings with LoCastro on the dark bluesy “Ebb Tide” or ultra romantic “Wile A Cigarette Was Burning.” All of the songs are fairly concise, as Flocks focuses on seductive drinks, seductive on soprano on the moody “Siren’s Spell” and melancholy back on tenor for “Muse’s Mask” and the late night at the Moose Lodge “Street of Dreams.” Ten cents a dance, and hold her tight!
Veteran bassist Ben Wolfe mixes and matches modern post bop sounds with strings with a core team of Donald Edwards/dr, pianists Orrin Evans or Luis Perdomo, vibist Joel Ross, a string section of Jesse Mills/vi, Georgy Valtchev/vi, Kenji Bunch/va and Wolfram Koessel/cel and guest horns Ruben Fox/ts, JD Allen/ts, Giveton Gelin/tp and Steve Davis/tb.
Sans strings, the horns are bluesy and assertive with Gelen leading the charge on “Opener” and Allen getting into a strong pitch on the “Tunisia” sounding “The Enforcer.” The strings create rich atmospheres, going from Bartok toswing on the dramatic “The Kora LA” while riding alongside Ross’s vibes on the mood changing “Blind Seven.” Elliptical sounds and atmospheres get askance on the sharp “Edged” while Wolfe lets everyone sway to “Gone Now.” Clever charts that work wonders and demand attention.