Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Ralph Bowen - Dedicated (Positone, 2009)

I can't help but be a homer and root for saxophonist Ralph Bowen who teaches at Rutgers and gigs quite a bit in my area (I actually booked him to play in my Library a few years ago.) This is a nice straight ahead album of confident modern jazz, with Sean Jones on trumpet, Adam Rogers on guitar, John Patitucci on bass and Antonio Sanchez on drums. "Canary Drums" opens the album with a mid-tempo groove. A flowing saxophone solo follows the melody building nicely to a cascading solo. "Qaiyam" burns hard with Bowen digging deep on tenor saxophone, splashy guitar accents and the bass and drums engine driving the music along in a muscular manner. It's a textbook perfect piece of modern bebop. "Mr. Bebop" keeps that same groove going with some impressive ensemble playing, and a nice deep confident (but not smug) sounding tenor saxophone solo. Jones chimes in and stretches out on a blustery solo, and Rogers adds a tasteful solo of his own. The group comes back to improvise together nicely and take the tune out. It's easy to imagine this tune being a favorite of the band when playing live, there's a lot of room for everyone to blow and add their ideas to the common good. "Prof." is a pleasant mid-tempo tune with a lyrical saxophone melody that evolves into a biting solo with some over blowing for emphasis. Rogers takes a fast paced and complex, yet understated solo, with the tone of his guitar seeming subdued. "E.R." solo saxophone plaintive and bluesy, acting like a solo coda or encore to the album. This was an enjoyable album of modern based bebop jazz. The group keeps the energy level high and both the solos and the ensemble playing is at a very high level.

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