Joshua Bruneau Septet – Bright Idea – CellarLive Cl032013, 52:59 ***1/2:
(Joshua Bruneau – trumpet; Steve Davis – trombone; Ken Fowser – tenor sax; Andrew Renfroe – guitar; Taber Gable – piano; Matt Dwonszyck – acoustic bass; Jason Tiemann – drums)
Trumpeter Joshua Bruneau is a new name on the jazz scene and this is his initial effort as a leader. This hard-bop influenced septet with featured trombonist Steve Davis, delivers some brisk swirling sounds in this live recording entitled Bright Idea from Smalls Jazz Club in New York City.
The set list is a mixture of originals from Bruneau, plus a couple of numbers from several well-known jazz musicians, and one American popular standard all of which are played with fluent expertise. A Bruneau original “Fuller’s Blues” dedicated to trombonist Curtis Fuller, leads off and demonstrates the band’s good intentions. There is a brisk opening theme with the horns in unison, followed by Bruneau showing his chops in the upper register. Steve Davis’ effort is well-constructed and guitarist Andrew Renfroe demonstrates some tasty riffs. A solid opening.
In the early to mid 1950s, one of the go-to West Coast bassists was Leroy Vinnegar. Although not noted as a composer, his composition “Hard To Find” is a well-formulated number for this group. With a soul/blues theme, it allows the band to develop a feeling from which strong solos can be developed. Apart from Bruneau and Davis, bassist Dwonszyck takes Vinnegar’s signature walking bass line to a strong solo effort. The title track “Bright Idea” is another Bruneau original that has all the attributes to feature a frame on which each of the players can take a musical turn. They all demonstrate their chops with purposeful phrasing and well thought-out improvised lines.
The lovely ballad “You Don’t Know What Love Is” is set up as a centrepiece for trumpeter Bruneau with only the rhythm section as support. He demonstrates that he has the technique, facility, and range to cover the tune with smart ideas and a probing style. Guitarist Renfroe also chips in with some convincing runs. The final and longest track is McCoy Tyner’s “For Tomorrow” which was arranged for the group by Steve Davis. Apropos of the composer Tyner, pianist Taber Gable, who has not figured all that prominently in the other tracks, shows that he can deliver the goods when called upon. Trombonist Davis and Bruneau again show their mettle with their firm approach and abundant inquisitiveness.
This an assertive group attuned to the vagaries of hard-bop redux.
TrackList: Fuller’s Blues; The Owl Shop; Hard To Find; Bright Idea; You Don’t Know What Love Is; Theme For Kareem; For Tomorrow