Ok, so the final installment of this 3 part series of new records from Posi-Tone is finally making its conclusion. I was originally gonna finish this up with a single review of Jared Gold’s All Wrapped Up, but a couple weeks after I got that record I received David Gibson’s End of the Tunnel. Since they both feature the same rhythm section (Gold on B3 and Quincy Davis on drums) I figured what the hell, I’ll review both of them and turn a 3 disc review into a 4 disc review. So here we gooo……
Oh, and if any of you are interested in other recent releases from Posi-Tone I’d suggest checking out guitarist Brent Canter’s Urgency of Now and guitarist Dave Juarez’s Round Red Light, both of which strangely (maybe) enough feature Seamus Blake on tenor. They are great post-bop albums that slightly incorporate rock elements and featurecatchy writing and strong solos throughout. Definitely check out these upcoming guitarists.
David Gibson: End of the Tunnel (Posi-Tone PR 8082)
(Trust me, this review is a positive one, just get past the first coupla sentences). I’ll admit it, just like I have an unexplainable allergy to jazz vocals so too do I have an allergy to the trombone as a solo instrument. Perhaps it’s because there are so many trombone soloists who try to make the trombone sound pretty. I’m convinced that a trombone cannot sound pretty or delicate or sensitive or whatever and not sound limp. I love me some tailgate trombone: the louder, the brasher, the better. And if it’s not tailgate trombone style there had better be a slight rasp and edge to that trombone. One of the things I can’t stand is a flaccid trombone.
All that being said, I am not allergic to David Gibson’s trombone at all. It’s strong and has plenty of bite, even when he’s playing in a more relaxed and sensitive manner. Oh, and his new album, End of the Tunnel, which also includes Julius Tolentino on alto, is pretty damn good too.
The record grooves hard right out of the gate, and continues to groove all the way through. Herbie Hancock’s “Blind Man, Blind Man” starts things off with an infectious strut, a la Lee Morgan’s “Sidewinder.” Gibson’s “Wasabi” is a more forward charging rock inspired tune. Gibson and Tolentino are plenty funky here, and I lack the technical knowledge about the B3 to adequately explain what Gold does during his solo – he gets a spooky, kind of hollow sound out of it, a color I don’t think I’ve heard from a B3 before. It’s a great example of what he can make the versatile instrument do. Gold’s “Preachin’” is a lovely easy swinger. Gibson uses plenty of space in his solo, and you can hear how shapes each note, giving them individual qualities and showing that everything he’s doing is intentional – no fluff here, which can actually be said for the whole record. No fluff, all business.
Jared Gold: All Wrapped Up (Posi-Tone PR 8080)
Like End of the Tunnel, All Wrapped Up jumps right out of the gates. Joining Gold and Davis are saxophonist Ralph Bowen (whose latest Power Play is also worth checking out) and trumpeter Jim Rotondi. I wouldn’t call this an old school record, partly because all four members of the band contributed tunes, and partly because it doesn’t sound like an old school record. What is old school about it (besides the classic tenor/trumpet frontline) is the attitude and the presentation: it swings like crazy, the band is tight, and perhaps most importantly, the soloists bring it every time – their solos are confident, well conceived, get right to the point, and are firmly grounded in the hard bop tradition.
As a soloist Gold is not from the Jimmy Smith, bluesy, churchy, grimy school of B3 playing. His approach is more similar to Pat Bianchi or Sam Yahel. He uses the entire range of timbres and textures the B3 can offer, which he does well on Rotondi’s “Dark Blue.” Single notes runs, lush thick block chords, swells, and changes to the stops are all there. Bowen is a monster and a master technician, and has been since at least before he appeared on those Out of the Blue albums Blue Note put out in the mid 80s. His concise composition “Midnight Snack” runs through several short episodes before giving way to the solos. Bowen and the other soloists blow over a rhythm section that alternates between a medium swing and a Latin-ish groove. After Bowen and Rotondi blow it’s Gold’s turn, and he plays over a somewhat lilting half time back beat feel, giving the tune contrast. Rotondi is in fine form throughout the record and provides a nice counterpart to Bowen; both men compliment each other nicely. Davis is great, and what I especially like about his drumming is that his snare drum is always always always in the pocket – it is funky (check out “Mama Said”) and gets my head nodding.
Each track is relatively short, with only two going over seven minutes. At 50 minutes in length All Wrapped Up doesn’t wear out its welcome, and it’s excellent execution and production invites you to return several times.