Trumpeter John Bailey, with a dream quartet- it’s all good…
John Bailey – Time Bandits – Freedom Road #FRR 02 – 53:01 – ****1/2
(John Bailey – trumpet and flugelhorn; George Cables – piano; Scott Colley – bass; Victor Lewis – drums)
Trumpeter John Bailey has been on the jazz scene for quite a few years as both a first call sideman, as well as a jazz educator at the University of Miami. He has backed Ray Charles, and Arturo O’Farrill, and served a stint with the Buddy Rich Big Band, while he was still in college.
As a leader, however, John has had just two albums under his name. With his new CD, Time Bandits, released on his own label, Freedom Road, his stature is sure to rise. Backed by a dream quartet of ace veterans, Bailey has released a mix of five originals, and five re-workings of both standards, and band mate compositions.
What immediate jumps out on a first listen is John’s gorgeous tone, mellifluous and warm, with a mastery of the trumpet mid-range. On both uptempo and exquisite ballads, Bailey shows his brass skills of a wide range of jazz genres. The iconic George Cables, is the perfect pianist for Bailey, as he is sympathetic, both driving the beat, and playing lush piano lines, always just right for any mood. Bassist Scott Colley, and drummer, Victor Lewis, round out the quartet, with Scott providing a steady bass line (with plenty of time for solos), and Victor, propelling the group with both drive and sophistication. The quartet is fully in the pocket at all times.
The sound mix is top notch as the sessions were recorded at the famous Rudy Van Gelder studio, with Rudy’s protege, Maureen Sickler, handling the engineer duties. The “warmness” of the sound stage is fully on display, and the resultant acoustics bring to mind Blue Note label releases of the 1960s, which is an exultant compliment.
There is not a weak track here. The title track opens, immediately swinging and John rises to the occasion. “Various Nefarious” follows and we are in hard bop heaven, with a funky gospel blend. At that point already, I knew that this was a release that had to be lauded.
Other winning tracks included “Ode to Thaddeus,” a tribute to trumpeter, Thad Jones. It’s a beautiful ballad, and has a sublime moving solo by George Cables. Victor Lewis wrote, “Oh Man, Please Get Me Out of Here.” Its bluesy lines gives a well deserved bass solo to Scott Colley.
Lennon and McCartney’s “She’s Leaving Home,” done as a slow ballad, has John elegantly stating the well known melody. It will bring back memories.
“Rose” enters some open “free” edgy territory, with Bailey darting in and out . It is totally different from the rest of the album, showing John is a trumpeter for any season.
Bailey was mentored by the great Ira Sullivan, and the group takes on “How Do You Know?” from Ira’s 1982 album with Red Rodney. It has a jaunty vibe, and Colley has another great solo.
George Cables’ “Lullaby” is a drop dead gorgeous duo with Cables and Bailey. “Groove Samba” closes out the CD with a swinging arrangement, with Cables providing the “juice” for the quartet to shine.
John Bailey should be added to your list of contemporary trumpet players who can “bring the goods” and provide a great listening experience for jazz trumpet fans!
John Bailey – Time Bandits: Tracklist:
Long Ago and Far Away
Ode to Thaddeus
Oh Man, Please Get Me Out of Here!
She’s Leaving Home
How Do You Know?
More information available through artist John Bailey: