Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Glenn Wilson: Timely

Cadence Jazz
By Ric Bang
Buy CD: Timely

If the recent albums crossing my desk are any indication, bebop is alive and doing quite well. 

The artists who make up this particular quintet, starting with drummer Tony Martucci, have been — and still are — masters of that jazz genre. Although the geographic areas where groups like this operate usually center around New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles or Seattle, these individuals reside and work in and around Virginia. Some are professors in nearby upper-echelon universities.

In the words of one group member, they’re all “veterans, rather than young lions." Each has spent 30 years or more with various name bands and local combos. Baritone saxman (and leader) Glenn Wilson spent time with Buddy Rich, as did trumpeter John D’earth. Bassist Jimmy Masters, pianist John Toomey and Martucci worked with literally dozens of the combos that frequent East Coast states ... often sharing gigs with each other. 

This release contains eight tunes, several by “names” such as Pepper Adams, Wayne Shorter and Bob Bolden; the rest are original compositions by members of Martucci’s combo. The common denominator is that everything swings like crazy. 

The album was recorded during a two-day period, and to a live audience, at the Havana Nights Jazz Club in Virginia Beach, Va. As usually is the case, the audience contributed positively to the quality of the music; the artists always are “juiced” by enthusiastic patrons, and also by each other. 

Martucci does an outstanding job: both as a key member of the rhythm section, and with respect to phrasing and solo distribution. To put it another way, he’s first a driving force, and there aren’t a lot of drum solos. (Take note, Rich and Belson!) The other instrumentalists are excellent in all respects. And, believe it or not, several tracks are moving balladic tunes that are truly danceable.

Great job, guys! I’ll definitely keep my ears tuned in your direction.

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