Chris “Doc” Stewart – Code Blue – Cannonball Jazz CJ-2014, 78:46 [4/14/14] ****:
(Doc Stewart, Dan Higgins, Bill Liston, Rusty Higgins, Greg Huckins, Alex Budman- woodwinds; Wayne Bergeron, Dan Fornero, Jeff Bunnell, Ron Stout, Kye Palmer, Larry Hall- trumpet and Flugelhorn; Andy Martin, Alex Iles, Scott Kyle, Bill Reichenbach – trombone – Matt Catingub – piano and keyboards; Kevin Axt – acoustic and electric bass; Steve Moretti – drums)
Chris “Doc” Stewart is actually an emergency room doctor at The Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona. His second love is big band jazz, and on alto sax, he is a talented reed man. He is also an historian on Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, and in 2005 recorded a tribute to Adderley, entitled Phoenix. His big band, Resuscitation, reunites his pre-medicine colleagues, who have largely gone on to be forces in the Los Angeles studio scene- especially Wayne Bergeron, Ron Stout, and Andy Martin.
His new CD is a blast. It combines some “kick-ass” big band arrangements with a West Coast bent. There is the requisite medical/ jazz theme (the four part “Code Blue Suite”), along with a gorgeous tribute to Bud Shank (“Homage to Bud Shank”), some bossa/samba arrangements (“Patty’s Bossa” and “Introduction to a Samba”) and along with tracks by Charles Lloyd, Hal Galper, and Oscar Pettiford.
Stewart’s full band comprises up to 19 pieces, and what is immediately apparent with the opening suite is the powerful kick of his aggregation. The arrangements are full of hooks, and the especially the brass section is dynamic. Trumpeter Ron Stout deserves special mention with his blow-the-roof- off power and range. He has solos on Adderley’s “The Sticks,” “Snakin’ the Grass,” Timmon’s classic “Dis Here,” and Pettiford’s iconic “Bohemia After Dark.”
The tribute to the late master Bud Shank, and the ballad “Song My Lady Sings” are nice counterpoints to some of the burners elsewhere. The same goes for the samba and the bossa tunes.
I’d have to say that if Doc Stewart gets tired of the excitement of the ER, then there is a place for him in General Practice, as he can cover the gamut of big band jazz with aplomb.
This superb CD can be found everywhere. Take (at least one) and call your doctor if the excitement does not wear off in four hours. It will jump start your day without cardiac paddles.
TrackList: Code Blue Suite: Code Pink, Ironman Blues – But Seriously, Dig Me Man! The Last Breath Blues – All Alone Now, Code Jesus, The Sticks, Homage to Bud Shank, Snakin’ the Grass, Patty’s Bossa, Dis Here, Introduction to a Samba, Poor Butterfly, Song My Lady Sings, The Way You Look Tonight, Bohemia After Dark