Last year, when we reviewed Ken Fowser’s initial CD as band leader, (his previous issues for PosiTone shared the limelight with co-leader Behn Gillece) Standing Tall, (http://www.audaud.com/ken-fowser-standing-tall-posi-tone/) our conclusion was that Fowser was spot on in bringing hard bop fans a solid set of free wheeling jazz with a swagger. He once again shares the front line with trumpeter, Josh Bruneau, and their blend continues to impress.
Once more, Fowser has written all the compositions, and there is a maturity and a polished sheen from the get-go. “Blast Off” does just that, and Fowser makes his solo choruses pop in an effortless manner that keeps your attention and swings mightily. When Bruneau joins in, it recalls the Blue Note issues when tenor and trumpet highlighted hard bop’s appeal throughout the late ‘50s into the late ‘60s. Its appeal remains intoxicating.
That attraction demanded a strong piano presence, and Rick Germanson is back again to fill that bill ably. His sparkling lines provide the sound stage for the front line horns to emote and improvise. On “ Blues for Mabes,” a tribute to Harold Mabern, Rick channels
Horace Silver, with a Caribbean lilt, as Ken and Josh testify.
“The View from Below” is an increase in intensity and the quintet is up to the task. Drummer Jason Tiemann propels this tune. The title track is a feature for Fowser and his rapid fire delivery provides a stepping stone for Bruneau to further escalate in his solo. “Ready the Mops” (I wonder where the inspiration for the title lies) closes this fine release and all the members stretch out. Paul Gill’s bowed bass solo stands out.
Fans of classic hard bop should definitely Now Hear This…