A self-assured session from a tight little band
Cory Weeds Little Big Band – Explosion – CellarLive CL111317 59:40****:
In reading the names of the musicians that participated in this session, alto saxophonist PJ Perry popped out. It was a reminder of an early time when a couple of these smaller styled units were playing regularly in Canada. In particular, Perry played with the highly regarded Rob McConnell Tentet in the early 2000s, and that band recorded not unsurprisingly on the Canadian label Justin Time Records. Regrettably, Perry is not given much to do in this recording, despite being biting and inventive alto player.
In this outing, the preponderance of the musicians are Canadians, but there were several ringers including baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan, trombonist Steve Davis and trumpeter Joe Magnarelli all of whom are Americans. The bustling charts were arranged by a Vancouverite couple Jill Townsend and husband Bill Coon and were a judicious mixture of tunes written by bop masters, popular standards, and soul favourites.
When he was alive, pianist Tommy Flanagan was always tasteful improvisor, and his composition “Minor Mishap” follows in that tradition. After a strong opening theme, trombonist Steve Davis and trumpeter Joe Magnarelli take over with a couple of long insightful solos. After a brief re-statement of the theme. Cory Weeds jumps in with nifty tenor work and drummer Jesse Cahill punches the number along with authoritative breaks before the out chorus.
Hank Mobley was an underrated but understated and melodic tenor saxophonist who was an early member of the Art Blakey Jazz Messengers. He also participated in a rewarding musical relationship with trumpeter Lee Morgan. He also enjoyed a successful career as a leader, and was recognized as one of the most interesting hard bop composers of his era. His composition “ East Of The Village” is one of the highlights of this session. Bill Coon builds an arrangement filled with regard to precision and swirling vibrancy. Tenor man Weeds and trumpeter Magnarelli show their undaunted determination and musical flexibility .
Pianist Eddie Heywood, who wrote “Canadian Sunset” in 1956, was born in Atlanta Georgia, spent most of his working career in and around New York City, and died in Miami Beach Florida, never crossing the 49th parallel into Canada. Nevertheless the tune rose to #2 on the Billboard charts and the band gives it the appropriate ( Canadian) western rhythm in both the opening and closing bars of the piece. Jill Townsend’s arrangement is structured with lots of inventive range so that Weeds’ tenor and Gary Smulyan’s baritone develop stylishly put together solos.
Percy Mayfield’s “Please Send Me Someone One To Love” was a number one R&B hit in late 1950 and was a down home blues telling the story of a man looking for a good woman to love. Jill Townsend’s arrangement gives Weeds’ tenor the lead in this blues version of the number as the band falls in behind with roguish charm and ever changing shapes.
This is a self-assured session from a tight little band.
Minor Mishap; Soon; East Of The Village; Park Avenue Petite; My Girl Is Just Enough For Me; Canadian Sunset; K.D.’S Motion; Please Send Me Someone To Love; Ready & Able
Cory Weeds – tenor saxophone; PJ Perry – alto saxophone; Steve Kaldestad – tenor saxophone; Gary Smulyan – baritone saxophone; Rod Murray – trombone; Steve Davis – trombone; Joe Magnarelli – trumpet; Chris Davis – trumpet; Chris Gestrin – piano; Paul Rushka – bass – Jesse Cahill – drums; Jill Townsend – conductor