Monday, July 04, 2011

Michael Benedict and Bopitude (Planet Arts, 2011)

Taking some of the best jazz compositions of the mid 1950’s to mid 1960s hard bop movement and placing them into a more modern context, drummer Michael Benedict leads an exciting band called Bopitude which consists of Bruce Barth on piano, Chris Pasin on trumpet, Brian Patneaude on saxophones and Mike Lawrence on bass. There is a nice mix of bebop and hard bop including classy versions of Blue Note era classics like the Dexter Gordon favorite ‘Cheesecake”, a nice feature for Patneaude’s steely tenor saxophone, “Heckle and Jeckle” and “Frankenstein” which grew out of the fruitful collaboration between saxophonist Jackie McLean and trombonist Grachan Moncour III. The hard bop anthem “Moanin” that Bobby Timmons composed for Art Blakey’s Jaz Messengers is featured with the band’s signature style: strong well played melody statements that spin into well thought out and logical improvisational segments before returning to the main melody. Solos are quite good and always in support of the song, and the ensemble playing is ego-less. Clifford Brown’s “Joy Spring” has a very potent solo from Chris Pasin, and pianist Barth contributes wonderful work throughout the project. Benedict makes no bones in the liner notes about the fact that hard bop is his favorite type of jazz and that passion and love fires a very well done album. Far from being a historical project, Bopitude proves that this music is just as valid today as when it was conceived. Michael Benedict and Bopitude -

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