Dave Anderson’s Blue Innuendo – Blue Innuendo – Label 1

Letting the swing and groove go and go and go.

Dave Anderson’s Blue Innuendo – Blue Innuendo [TrackList follows] Label 1, L1-2003-2, 57:42 [4/1/16] ****:

(Dave Anderson – tenor and soprano saxophone; Tom Guarna – guitar; Pat Bianchi – Hammond organ; Matt Wilson – drums)

Saxophonist Dave Anderson loves to swing and groove. That’s one reason he formed a new jazz quartet, Dave Anderson’s Blue Innuendo. On the foursome’s nearly hour-long effort, Blue Innuendo, the former Seattleite takes a classic soul-jazz lineup and puts the group through its paces. Anderson is joined by guitarist Tom Guarna (who leads his own band and has supported Wallace Roney, Stanley Clarke, Mark Turner and Branford Marsalis); Hammond organist Pat Bianchi (who has a couple of his own CDs out; and has worked with Chuck Loeb and JC Stylles); and drummer Matt Wilson (his résumé includes Lee Konitz and Denny Zeitlin). Anderson moved to New York City a few years ago, and this marks his first endeavor since heading east. The ten tracks (all but one are Anderson originals) have a meaningful amount of soulful propulsion.

There’s a city-centric focus to some pieces. The eight-minute opener, “Urban Dilemma,” (the longest cut) was penned expressly for this project. Anderson discloses, “I wanted to combine some characteristics of the Larry Goldings Trio—really well-arranged organ grooves—with a snaky soprano/guitar melody like our guitarist uses in some of his music.” “Urban Dilemma” represents New York City’s continuing gentrification, which has made it difficult for many city dwellers to live in the area and has caused shifts in the socio-cultural environment. The shortest track, “Two-Tone Tune,” was written specifically for Wilson, and was inspired by a building in Anderson’s neighborhood which has two colors on its outer surface. Anderson says he stared at the two-tone building and decided, “I’m going write a feature for Matt where every instrument gets just two notes (tones) to play for starters.” Structurally, the tune’s form has two main sections. The second portion is optimistic, with affirmative chords which Anderson mentions, “Remind me of Matt’s enormous, infectious enthusiasm.” 

Some compositions were created a while back but resurrected for this recording. The funky “22 Doors” is by Anderson’s friend, Devin Lowe, who played bass on Anderson’s 2011 Trio Real release. Anderson explains, “We had this tune in the book for that group but never recorded it, and I really wanted to hear these guys play it.” Anderson’s determination it might make a marvelous vehicle for his new quartet, is fortunately spot-on. The interplay between guitar, sax and organ is excellent, and the harmonization and soloing makes this one of the CD’s top picks. The five-minute feature, “The Phantom,” is something Anderson wrote many years ago, but didn’t perform until more recently. There’s nothing ghostly or menacing about this upbeat excursion. Quite the opposite; it’s a rousing tune which is aptly dedicated to tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson. Anderson remarks that is “because the melody sounds like something he might have played. His originality as a player and composer has always been inspiring.” The tune’s name, “The Phantom,” refers to Henderson’s alias, supposedly for his knack for disappearing from a room without being noticed. The title track is a tribute to vocalist, organist and trumpeter Joey DeFrancesco. There are no overt DeFrancesco quotes evident during the nearly seven-minute number, but it does capture DeFrancesco’s feel for jazz, replete with a sense of jazz’s beauty, history and mastery. The CD’s closer, “Redeye,” also alludes to another wunderkind jazz organist. “Redeye” is built on the “4th” intervals, and when it is played on the organ, Anderson clarifies “it reminds me of the great organist Larry Young who played 4ths as a trademark.” “Redeye” was kindled by Anderson’s back and forth travel between the West and East coasts. The arrangement’s lightly frenetic pace parallels the strenuous overnight airplane flights which Anderson had to endure. During the track’s midpoint, Anderson switches to soprano sax, which gives the tune a sharper tone which emulates going high into the sky aboard a jet.

The past comes alive during the high-speed “Genealogy.” The arrangement is based on the standard “I Got Rhythm,” but excludes parts from the original, while preserving the track’s quintessence. Anderson reveals, “I had been doing some family genealogy research and thought it would be cool to write a boppish tune and name it “Genealogy,” like some of the Charlie Parker heads that were named after different ‘-ologies’ like ‘Ornithology’ and ‘Anthropology.’” Anderson also opted to echo older bop arrangements, by exchanging the way the sax and guitar are used, reversing their typical roles between the “in-head” and the “out-head.” Blue Innuendo is an album which swings from start to finish, from one end to the other. If you’re a fan of guitar/organ/sax outings, then this is material you definitely should check out.

TrackList: Urban Dilemma; 22 Doors; 12-Step Blues; Parallel Present; Genealogy; Stuck; The Phantom; Two-Tone Tune; Blue Innuendo; Redeye.

—Doug Simpson

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