Introducing The Craig Scott Quintet [TrackList follows] – Cellar Live

Introducing The Craig Scott Quintet [TrackList follows] – Cellar Live CL120313, 63:11 ****:

(Craig Scott – vibraphone; Cory Weeds – tenor saxophone; Tony Foster – piano; Russ Botten – acoustic bass; Joe Poole – drums)

What are the odds that there would be two Craig Scott Quintets that both play similarly styled music yet are separated by thousands of miles of Pacific Ocean? Good it seems. One is based in Australia and has a trumpet/tenor sax front line, with the bassist Craig Scott as leader. The other is a Vancouver BC based outfit, with a front line of vibes and tenor sax, with this Craig Scott the leader on vibes and is the focus of Introducing The Craig Scott Quintet.

In a diverse session made up of a couple of original compositions, plus some well-known jazz themes and others , the band has a clear idea of what works best, to deliver a sound with which they are comfortable. The originals by leader Scott are “ Lunar Blues” and “Corner Table”. Each is a singular interpretation of a musical structure, with bassist Russ Botten leading the way on the former through a strong solo opening. Then tenor-man Weeds pick up the blues line with several choruses, before Scott’s vibes add to the proceedings. All in all a nice upbeat groove. On the latter, which may have been a musical play on Freddie Green’s Corner Pocket, takes hold in a mid-tempo fashion and relies heavily on Cory Weeds tenor to push to tune forward in a solid frame.

The Dizzy Gillespie/Charlie Parker anthem “Groovin’ High” starts off nicely with some interplay between Scott’s vibes and Weed’s tenor, with a run-through of the melody before Weeds takes over in solo pitch that shows his mettle, leading into Scott’s turn. While he covers the line, it is clear that he is still finding his way on the instrument, (Scott was a drummer for 30 years before taking up the vibes recently) as his solo lacks depth and originality.

In the 1950s Matt Dennis was one of those singer/pianist/composers, that shone brightly for a brief while then quickly faded. Nevertheless, Dennis penned some classic tunes such as Angel Eyes, Everything Happens To Me, along with “The Night We Called It A Day”, on which the band does a slow take, lead by Tony Foster’s piano and Scott’s vibes in full vibrato mode, which gives the tune its intimacy. The Oliver Nelson gem “Stolen Moments” is delivered in a rock-solid interpretation, with Weeds offering some hard blowing, then Scott makes his own measured statement, with both pianist Foster and bassist Botten taking well-deserved solos.

Although this is the first session for this band, they are a stylishly self-assured group.

TrackList: Lunar Blues; Groovin’ High; Chart Of My Heart; The Night We Called It A Day; Corner Table; Head And Shoulders; Banana Funk; Auntie Mame; Stolen Moments; Bossa Nova Do Marilla; Ginza Samba

—Pierre Giroux

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