Friday, June 24, 2016

Dave Anderson: Blue Innuendo

Label1 Music
By Ric Bang
Buy CD: Blue Innuendo

Dave Anderson plays soprano, alto and tenor sax; he also composes and leads this quartet. He probably isn’t too well known outside the jazz world, but he should be. 

Born and educated in Minnesota — and a graduate of the University of Minnesota — he received a full scholarship to perform at the Aspen Music Festival, spent almost a decade in and around New York City, and then moved to the Seattle area. He has performed with Clark Terry and Mel Torme, and garnered accolades from Ray Brown, Rufus Reid and others.

For this, Anderson’s third album, he’s supported by guitarist Tom Guarna, drummer Matt Wilson and B3 organist Pat Bianchi. Anderson wrote all but one of the tunes; the exception (“22 Doors”) was contributed by Devin Lowe, a friend and bassist on one of the earlier releases. All are traditional jazz charts; regardless of the tempo, they truly swing. In fact, these are some of the most musically clever arrangements I’ve heard in a long time.

Several other reviews cite these artists as “some of New York City’s finest sidemen,” but they’re actually better than that. Guarna is an exciting guitarist; his solo phrases often depart from what a given melodic line leads us to expect, and we wind up waiting to hear what he’ll play next. Bianchi is more “delicate” than many other Hammond organ artists, and his phrasing is sharper and “shorter.” Both of these characteristics eliminate the Hammond’s tendency to overwhelm the lines of the other instrumentalists. 

Wilson isn’t merely rock-solid; he’s what we sometimes label a “quiet” drummer. He’s never obtrusive. Anderson, as the primary composer, has a personal interest in getting the most out of each note; this is evident in his use of phrasing and chord structure.

These guys are very good, and they enjoy what they play. So will you.

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