Sunday, August 02, 2020

Charles Tolliver - Connect (Gearbox Records, 2020)

A beacon for progressive jazz since the 1960's, Charles Tolliver has had a stellar career as a trumpeter, bandleader, label head and educator. On this album, he leads an excellent band that includes Jesse Davis on alto saxophone, Binker Golding on tenor saxophone (on two tracks), Keith Brown on piano, Buster Williams on bass and Lenny White on drums. "Blue Soul" opens the album with propulsive rhythm and horns developing a potent theme. The throbbing potent beat soon gives way to swinging piano and drums, and a well played saxophone solos amid the swinging backdrop, playing in a patient and thoughtful fashion, leading to the leader's trumpet section, using a ripe golden sound, rippling around the rhythm section with class and agility and leading the group back to the heavy beat for the conclusion. A mellow mid tempo is set for the lengthy "Emperor March" with Binker Golding guesting on saxophone. Tolliver's crisp trumpet leads the way, getting punchier and quicker, opening up space for a saxophone feature, casting a long line out and playing well, building a complex and thematic solo. The second saxophone adds further color, interacting with the drums and building shorter cells of ideas into a cohesive statement. Trumpet glides in again, building an grand solo as the tempo increases, gracefully played piano, bass and drums take a bow and leading the full band back for the theme. "Copacetic" has a bright and bouncy fast theme with the leader's trumpet emerging for a powerful start over strong rhythm. The saxophone takes over and keeps the heat up driven by heavy sounding drums, and the band swings with a thick and heavy gait, toward a fast conclusion. The concluding track "Suspicion" opens with a bass solo that is lengthy and impressive. The drums and fast piano fold in, with fast and choppy horns including Golding sitting in in saxophone adding an urgent theme. The group plays full blast leads to trumpet focused area, pushing hard through the strong current, sounding great when the band goes full out, like when one saxophone plays hard along with the heavy full band beside him. Handing off to the second saxophonist who has a deeper and thicker sound really works well as he melds with the powerful drumming to create deep visceral music. This album worked quite well, with a mix of veterans and up and coming musicians creating a very focused performance. The high level of imagination keeps the music fresh and the musicians perform with a great deal of skill. Connect -

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