Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Chris Byars - Lucky Strickes Again (Steeplechase, 2011)

Coming into the jazz world at the intersection of swing and bop, saxophonist Lucky Thompson was a well regarded performer in the 1950's and 60's before leaving the music business in the 1970's. One of his most well regarded albums was the Lucky Strikes album released on OJC in 1964. Inspired by Thompson's approach to music and aided by an excellent cast: Leader Chris Byars on tenor and soprano saxophones, Scott Wendholt on trumpet, John Mosca on trombone, Zaid Nesser on alto saxophone, Mark Lopeman on baritone saxophone, Ari Roland on bass and Stefan Schatz on drums, they play the music of the man himself in a well arranged little-big-band format that allows for the compositions to shine for themselves, but also gives the musicians to take their own unique approach during solo improvisations. "Munsoon" and "Fanfare" work well as uptempo vehicles, allowing for fine soloing and propulsion from the rhythm section. The group is able to throttle back for ballads as well, with "Could I Meet You Later" and "Notorious Love" receiving rapturous treatment. This is a solid well played album that will certainly appeal to fans of modern mainstream jazz and come as a welcome reminder of the talented Lucky Thompson. Lucky Strikes Again: Amazon.com

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