Trumpeter Jim Rotondi is a commanding presence on the mainstream jazz scene, both as a leader and a member of the collective One for All. On this album he leads a hard hitting ensemble consisting of Joe Locke on vibraphone, Danny Grissett on piano, Barak Mori on bass and Bill Stewart on drums. Being the only horn in the lineup gives Rotondi plenty of room to stretch out and using vibes gives the music a nice full sound. The evocatively titled "Bizzaro World" opens the album with an uptempo urgent melody. After a fast statement of the theme, the leader takes a spitfire solo well supported by Mori's propulsive bass before returning to a fast and nimble full band improvisation. "We Can Work It Out" is nicely arranged from pop into strong hard bop. After a fast and nimble vibes solo, Rotondi takes command over strong piano, bass and agile drumming. The title track, "1000 Rainbows," has a mid-tempo and bluesy feel with rock solid bass and vibraphone accents fluttering around the trumpet. Locke's vibes increase the pace with his solo spot culminating in a strong and dexterous swing. "Crescent Street" begins with a strong hard bop melody, with fast vibes over thick, strong bass (Mori is excellent throughout this album) then Rotondi taking a lengthy solo supported by the piano trio. After a trio interlude and a brief drum solo, the band completes an excellent performance together. Most of the tracks are of the uptempo variety, but there are a couple of ballads, including "Born to Be Blue" which has slow lyrical brass over subtle brushwork, and the finale "Not Like This" where Locke's spare open vibes shimmer like the sun setting over water with slow, longing trumpet in support. Rounding out the performances are the burning "Gravitude" and the medium boil "49th Street" both of which feature strong this bass and drums forming a deep pocket setting the stage for vibes and trumpet to trade passages on the former, and a nice pinched sounding trumpet solo on the latter. All in all this was a consistently well played album, that will be a treat for fans of mainstream jazz and hard bop. The musicians work together very well in both ensemble and solo passages and make for a very accessible and exciting album. 1000 Rainbows - amazon.com
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John Butcher - Nigemizu (Uchimizu, 2015) ****½
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