Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Rich Halley 3 - The Literature (Pine Eagle Records, 2018)

Veteran saxophonist Rich Halley pares his group down to the essentials on this vibrant trio recording that also features Clyde Reed on bass and Carson Halley on drums. The music is full of energy and enthusiasm, displaying a passionate intensity and deep commitment to forward thinking jazz. "Little Willie Leaps" opens the album in brisk fashion with burly tenor saxophone stretching out over a gruff melody in the company of rolling drums and taut bass. The music becomes raw, hinting at freedom with a tightly coiled saxophone solo and then turns inward with a strong bass solo and a reciting of the memorable theme. Thelonious Monk's "Misterioso" is taken at a respectful mid-tempo pace with the memorable theme stated, before the group makes use of the openness of Monk's music and the trio format to reconstruct the music according to their own whim. A raw and stark tenor saxophone solo rips across the soundscape, astride bass and drums which take their own moment to extrapolate upon the music, before the group reconvenes to peruse a fine collective improvisation that ripples with energy. "Chano Pozo" sets the drummer free for a deeply rhythmic and impressive opening solo, with bass and saxophone falling in line as the drums create an ever changing foundation, and the saxophone weaves in and around the percussion in a very immediate manner. The music recalls the deeply rhythmic trio music that Sonny Rollins made in the fifties and his trio encounters with Elvin Jones, Shelly Manne and more. There is a bright and bouncy theme to "Broad Way Blues," and tight bass and drum playing keeps the music moving briskly forward and their crisp interplay supports the burly and strapping saxophone feature. The trio fearlessly tackles Monk's notoriously labyrinthine composition "Brilliant Corners" barrelling through the melody and launching into a very exciting improvised section with the saxophone leaping around the skittering bass and drums. The band really locks in on a deep and intuitive level, making for a very impressive performance which also incorporates a deep and resonant bass solo. "Kingdom of Not" has a deep and danceable groove, with heartfelt and bluesy saxophone adding to the ebullient attitude with some extra hand clapping for good measure. The saxophone solo is deep and soulful, but played with enough grit to keep everybody on their toes. This was a very good album of modern jazz, with excellent musicianship with an interesting and wide ranging selection of compositions, well chosen selections from the masters. The Literature - amazon.com

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