Label/Year: BFM Productions, 2017
Lineup includes – Bob Ferrel: trombone; Dwight West: vocals; Vinnie Cutro: trumpet; Rob Henke: trumpet; Joe Ford: alto sax; Frank Elmo: tenor and alto sax; Roy Nicolosi: alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones, trumpet; Sharp Radway: piano; Daryl Johns: bass; Steve Johns: drums; Frank Valdes: percussion; and more.
Experienced trombonist Bob Ferrel was not only a valuable member of the Duke Ellington Orchestra (conducted by Mercer Ellington) but also backed up amazing jazz singers such as Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, and Nancy Wilson.
On his latest, Jazztopian Dream, he shows a true penchant for crisply executed musical dialects, hailing from the hard line repertoire of both bop and post-bop currents.
“My Secret Love” is an uptempo quartet rampant where Ferrel’s gleaming tone buoys up sharp phraseologies.
The cool, Latin-infused “Alter Ego” obeys to a beautiful arrangement by its composer, the late pianist James Williams. It brims with strong melodies, an exuberant rhythm, and flashy colors. After the trombone solo, Joe Ford and Vinnie Cutro, on alto sax and trumpet, respectively, show how melodically assertive they can drive their improvisations. The pair also interacts on the neat and conscious rendition of “You’ve Got to Have Freedom” by Pharoah Sanders, complementing each other’s phrases with logical astuteness. The latter tune also features American vocalist Dwight West, whose casual posture in the way he addresses the songs is also noticeable on Parker's “Yardbird Suite”, “Don’t Go to Strangers”, a tune popularized in the 60s by Etta James, and on the totally dispensable “Every Day I Have the Blues”.
As an undoubted highlight, we have McCoy Tyner’s “Inner Glimpse”, the third part of his breathtaking Enlightenment Suite (from the 1973 album Enlightenment), which thrives with a ravishing rhythm and the typical modal approach that dominated the pianist’s scene in this particular phase of his career. On this version, the piano was entrusted to Sharp Radway who didn’t squander the chance to fly freely and expand the perception of the music. His explorations were competently followed by the forceful, Hubbard-esque lines of Cutro, and the vibrant trombone sounds of Ferrel duetting with Steve Johns’ punchy rhythms. This trombone-drums connection is also peremptory on Ferrel's only original, “Soul Bop”, a power-trio swing packed with raucous, multiphonic tones and a funk-rock pulse.
Deep-seated in the tradition but incorporating up-to-the-minute strokes, Jazztopian Dream encompasses a great selection of tunes, reviving the old times with a contagious liveliness. This makes for an enjoyable record.
02 - Alter Ego ► 04 - Inner Glimpse ► 09 - Soul Bop