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Brad Walseth reviews “Uptown”…

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Posi-tone Records
Wayne Escoffery, tenor saxophone; Avi Rothbard, guitar; Gary Versace, organ; Jason Brown, drums.

Britain-born Wayne Escoffery teams with Israeli-born Avi Rothbard for many of the original compositions on this recording. The music is mainly straight-ahead, and the musicians find an easy groove on practically all the songs and stick with it. Escoffery notes that his influences are Coltrane, Rollins, Shorter, and a few others but he reminds me more of Stanley Turrentine in his ability to stay in that middle range and sustain the listener’s interest in his playing. From the opening piece, “No Desert,” to the real final one, “Maya’s Waltz,” Rothbard is his trusted companion. Rothbard is particularly strong on that opening piece, along with Versace. On organ, Versace truly finds a bluesy groove for the instrument on the ballad “You Know I Care,” allowing Escoffery to takes his time and let the music develop, no matter the quicken improvisational direction Rothbard brings into the piece, playing for awhile as if he owned it. Throughout each selection, the Latin-tinged “Cross Bronx” to the Middle Eastern-flavored “Gulf of Aqaba” to the pop-inspired “Nu Soul,” the musicians find a place of unity and swing throughout. Although the final piece, “Easy Now” is too short and too sweet, at least for this reviewer’s taste. Completion would have been better served with the longest piece of the set, “Maya’s Waltz,” with its extremely effective passage featuring guitar, drums, and organ. Overall the work is easy on the ears, the musicians work well together, and the recording provides a standout piece in “Cross Bronx.”

As with the other recordings, one could play this music for guest, and it would be entertaining but not intrusive. But like the other groups, too, there is a bit of repetitiousness about the music. The composers posit one line, and the rest is repetition with subtle variations.



Written by editor

December 21st, 2009 at 11:46 am

Posted in Reviews

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