Grant Stewart Trio – Roll On – CellarLive

Grant Stewart Trio – Roll On – CellarLive CL000616 49:19 ***:

A cooly competent session

( Grant Stewart – tenor saxophone; Paul Sikivie – acoustic bass; Phil Stewart – drums)

Grant Stewart is a former Canadian and now a transplanted New Yorker.  As a tenor saxophone stylist, he  is closer to Sonny Rollins than John Coltrane and is certainly far removed from the likes of Lester Young, Ben Webster and Coleman Hawkins. His current release on CellarLive entitled Roll On, falls into the category of the Sonny Rollins 1957 offering with Ray Brown and Shelly Manne called Way Out West.

This similarity with Rollins can only be carried as far as tone and big deep sound, but not to improvisational facility and imagination. That is not to say that Stewart is not accomplished, just that he has limitations. In this nine track set, Stewart and his cohorts tackle several compositions from the bop world, along with  some standard material to provide a balanced musical offering.

“Thinking Of You” by Harry Ruby and Bert Kalmar is from a 1927 Broadway show called The Five O’Clock Girl. Not exactly a tune at top of mind, but the band sails into the melody with gusto punctuated with some propulsive drumming from Phil Stewart ( Grant’s brother). If ever there was a jazz workhorse it’s “After You’ve Gone” which has been covered by everyone from Sophie Tucker to Louis Armstrong to Tony Bennett to Phil Collins. This is a take no prisoners version with all the participants managing to hold everything together.

The three bop compositions are from individuals who struggled with addiction problems that cut short their musical lives, but who influenced jazz music long after their deaths. In order: Bud Powell’s “Un Poco Loco”, Fats Navarro’s “Fats Flats” and Elmo Hope’s “Roll On”. As with most bop compositions these numbers are filled with chord changes, complex structures and tempos that challenge the musicians. However Stewart and friends are not trepidatious in their attack and deliver the goods.

All in all, this is a cooly competent session.

TrackList:
Thinking Of You
Here I’ll Stay
After You’ve Gone
Just As Though You Were Here
Un Poco Loco
End Of A Love Affair
Fats Flats
Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans
Roll On

—Pierre Giroux

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