Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Willie Jones III review - NYC Jazz Record

Willie Jones II Sextet
Plays the Max Roach Songbook

Drummer Max Roach was one of the most influential
drummers of the 20th century but his legacy of
songwriting is not nearly as widespread. He certainly
wrote and recorded some powerful statements but his
tunes are not a large part of the standard jazz repertoire.
Drummer Willie Jones III’s live tribute to his songbook
doesn’t focus strictly on his pen; in fact there are only
two tunes credited to Roach, with one of them a
collaboration. Instead, the band rips through tunes
associated with a 15-year span of Roach’s career as a
leader from the early ‘50s to the late ‘60s.

The sextet starts off with a crisp, extended version
of “Ezz-Thetic”, one of two tunes from Max Roach +4
featured on this recording. Everyone but bassist
Dezron Douglas takes ecstatic solos on the upbeat tune
before Jones trades eights with the soloists. Eventually
he takes over the stage with a thundering spotlight.
The band maintains their energy for Gary Bartz’
“Libra”, which lets saxophonist Stacy Dillard throw a
few daggers before trumpeter Jeremy Pelt explodes
over the furious rhythm section.

Leon Mitchell’s “To Lady” briefly slows the tempo
with beautiful interaction between the horns and a
lilting touch from pianist Eric Reed. The band closes
with a nod to Roach’s days with Clifford Brown,
working through the 1954 rendition of Cole Porter’s “I
Get A Kick Out of You”, Pelt leaping out of the gate,
amiably tackling the Brown role.

Although the sound of the audience has a minimal
presence on the recording, the live aspect allowed the
band to stretch out quite a bit. The first four of seven
tracks account for over 45 minutes of running time.
Everyone is in top form, Reed especially memorable
with a swinging arsenal of lightning-quick ideas. Jones
has a crisp feel and drives the band expertly, rumbling
along with barely enough room to catch his breath in a
fitting homage to the much-missed master.

Willie Jones III @ NYC Jazz Record

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