"NEW YORK TIME"
CHRISTIAN MC BRIDE, JAVON JACKSON, JIMMY COBB, CEDAR WALTON
This is a talent-laden group that calls itself New York Time, also the title of their first release.
Two of its members, tenorist Javon Jackson and drummer Jimmy Cobb performed at Portland's Jimmy Mak's several months ago. This is a mixed age band with Jackson and Mc Bride admitting they are the constant students of elder statesmen Walton and Cobb. They mix quite well too!
Jackson excels on John Coltrane's "Naima" playing with strength and power while at the same time moderating his attack with refined taste. Thus he was able to express the full depth of the composition. Walton solos briefly between Jackson's two choruses.
Jackson's power again asserts itself on "Grove," a tune written by Mc Bride. Strangely, Mc Bride is limited to an ever-so-brief solo opening and to providing the solid rhythmic underpinning for the album's entire length.
Mc Bride does get the call on the first tune, "Newest Blues," beginning with a short exchange with Walton before launching into his compelling, pulsing solo on that swinger.
Other tunes include "Sixth Ave.", "My Shining Hour," "Diane," "Whisper Not," and "Mode for Joe."
DAVID "FATHEAD" NEWMAN
Tenor legend David "Fathead" Newman tackles eight familiar melodies plus the title tune, "Life," written by the late John Hicks.
Newman's distinctively mellow saxophone sounds relaxed as he opens with Neil Hefti's "Girl Talk." Vibraphonist Steve Nelson's solo is much like Newman's — easy flowing and relaxed. Hicks' "Life," a jazz waltz, features Newman on flute with solos by Nelson, pianist David Leonhardt, bassist John Menegon and guitarist Peter Bernstein. "Autumn in New York" has Newman on alto this time on which he sounds equally adept in his interpretation of this standard.
My favorite is Duke Ellington's "Come Sunday." He takes it easy over some very elegant Leonhardt piano composition. Bernstein is equally gorgeous with his fine guitar solo. Nelson and Leonhardt follow.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Newman aboard the Norwegian Sun a few months ago during a jazz cruise. When asked about his portrayal in the movie Ray, he stated he was not at all pleased. He was especially concerned about him being cast as the person who introduced Ray Charles to hard drugs. He told me Charles was using drugs while living in Seattle before the two of them had even met.
"LOST IN NEW YORK"
Excellent musicianship and great tunes from great composers lead the listener through what some could say is a dark beginning to a CD.
It opens with Wayne Shorter's "Lost," not a happy tune, and then moves to Stevie Wonder's "Where Were You When I Needed You?" Another downer follows, a Matt Ray original, "El Bosque," — pretty but oh so serious.
"Pent Up House" broke the chain with a sparkling open followed by a delightful Ray piano solo. Bolstered by his rhythm section of drummer Quincy Davis and bassist Danton Roller, Ray was inventive and uplifting. The trio also does well with John Coltrane's "Central Park West" and "Satellite" as well as Joe Henderson's "Serenity."