Sunday, May 3, 2009

TAG TEAM

Carl and Rodney-

I have to be frank. The first time I heard your new album “Work To Do” I disliked it. It seemed as if you and Rodney couldn’t decide if you wanted to make a smooth jazz album or a straight ahead acoustic date. Because I respect the work both of you have done over the years as sidemen and bandleaders, I decided to spend for time with “Work to Do”, and maybe my initial feelings about “Work to Do” were wrong.

The album grew on me. Normally I listen to an album repeatedly before I comment about it. I rarely rely on my first impression. When I heard to “What’s Going On”, which featured smooth jazz saxophonist Kirk Whalum, I figured you and Rodney had double-crossed your fan base by joining the ranks of smooth jazz musicians. It was beneath you guys to dabble with smooth jazz.

Surprisingly, “What Going On” and “With You I’m Born Again were the tracks I replayed the most. With this album, you and Rodney showed you could dabble with smooth jazz without sullying your reputations as superb jazz traditionalists. As for whalum, the guy proved he could play with jazz musicians that have sound bop pedigrees, and he could thrive outside of his smooth jazz comfort zone. The tenor saxophonist was aggressive throughout. For this album, Whalum checked his pretty boy playing style at home.

You and Rodney run a tight ship. There was no grandstanding. Each player was respectful. My favorite moments were trombonist Vincent Chandler solo on “For Garrison (Both)”. Chandler channeled JJ Johnson spirit. Pianist George Colligan played at a high level of sophistication from start to finish. Whitaker, a hardnosed bop bassist, showed he has an angelic side on the Beatles classic “Eleanor Rigby”.

Throughout the album, Carl, your licks were like drummer Philly Joe Jones' licks. You tactfully make your presence known. You served pointed solos. You’re never self-indulgent. You’re an easygoing drummer. As leaders, You and Rodney delegated the bulk of the workload to your sidemen and they excelled.

Alto saxophonist Vincent Herring stood out the most. You and Rodney egged him on. In fact, both of you were like enthusiastic college cheerleaders, giving each musician support. You're unselfish co-leader. You and Rodney make a formidable duo, indeed.

You guys are wonderful bass and drum tag team in the tradition of duo such as Jimmie Garrison and Elvin Jones and Ron Carter and Tony Williams. That's not over praise but proven fact.

I’ve listened to “Work To Do” six times today. "Work To Do" is a fantastic date that mixed straight ahead acoustic swing with smooth jazz. I implore my readers to buy a copy Tuesday May 5th, the official release date. I don’t make guarantees, but If for some reason; my readers don’t share my enthusiasm after listening to "Work To Do” I’ll reimburse them.

Continue to swing

Charles
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