Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Kevin Stout and Brian Booth: Color Country

Jazzed5 Records
By Ric Bang
Buy CD: Color Country

Trombonist/guitarist/percussionist Kevin Stout and saxophonist/flutist Brian Booth love jazz and their home state of Utah, in equal measure. They’re longtime friends and partners who’ve released three previous albums, to rave reviews. Then followed a 10-year pause, during which they often worked together in gigs throughout Utah.

And now comes the release of Color Country.

Their careers have spanned three decades. Stout worked with The Four Freshman for almost a decade, and also has performed with Joe Piscopo, The Four Tops, Frank Sinatra Jr. and Don Menza’s Big Band, as well his own groups. Booth, in turn, has shared a stage with notables such as Natalie Cole, Lou Rawls, Mel Torme and Ray Charles, among others. Booth also has led his own groups in Utah and the surrounding states.

This new album celebrates the Southern Utah region that contains five National Parks often visited by Stout and Booth. The 13 tracks, all of which they composed and arranged, are named for points of interest with particular meaning to both of them. 

The supporting musicians include pianist Joey Singer, bassist Tom Warrington, drummer John Abraham and vocalist JoBelle Yonely.

All but one of the tracks are done at mid- to up-tempos, using 4/4, 3/4, Latin, fusion and straight-ahead meters. The exception is the ballad “Weeping Rock,” which features Booth’s soprano sax, Stout’s guitar and trombone, and Yonely (no words, just gorgeous vocal chords).

Every track is great, but my favorite is “Petroglyphs,” which really rocks (pun intended).

I’m particularly impressed by the various instruments interface, during both the ensemble and solo choruses; the arrangements are complex at times, but they always swing. On top of which, the solos are truly excellent.

Plan on “all listening, without much talking” when this album hits your rotation!

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