Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Terell Stafford: Brotherlee Love

Capri Records
By Ric Bang
Buy CD: Brotherlee Love

Some time has passed since I’ve reviewed a “small jazz” (quintet)-sized combo that plays a truly pleasant mix of both new and standard straight-ahead arrangements, all of which swing nicely. Of course, with the artists involved here, that’s no surprise. Terell Stafford is one of the most gifted — and hardest-working — trumpet players to have developed during the past 20 years, and his pianist, Bruce Barth, has the same reputation.

Stafford was attending the University of Maryland in 1988 — to obtain a degree in music — when he met Wynton Marsalis, who recommended that he study with William Fielder (who, at the time, was at Rutgers University). During this period, Stafford joined Bobby Watson’s group, Horizon. Stafford subsequently played with McCoy Tyner, Benny Golson, Kenny Barron, Jon Faddis and the Dizzy Gillespie All Star Band, along with his own groups.

This album is dedicated to Lee Morgan, a sensational young trumpeter who, at 18, had joined Dizzy’s big band. Morgan was another icon who met an untimely death; he was shot to death by his common-law wife when he was just 33.

Morgan wrote seven of these nine tracks; Stafford composed “Favor.” “Candy,” the lone standard, is an Alex Kramer tune.

This is a “happy” album; you can feel the enjoyment projected by the artists during each track. Very often, even with famous names, the musicians can sound a bit bored, but that absolutely isn’t the case here.

This is the kind of group you want to spend an entire evening listening to.

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