Keith Oxman – Dues in Progress – Capri Records

by | Jul 6, 2006 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Keith Oxman – Dues in Progress – Capri Records 74075-2,  72:27  ****:

(Keith Oxman, tenor sax; Al Hood, trumpet; Curtis Fuller, trombone; Peter Cooper, oboe; Chip Stephens, piano; Ken Walker, bass; Todd Reid, drums)

Keith Oxman was a new name to me, though he has released 7 CDs on the Capri label. What caught my eye initially on his new release, Dues in Progress, was the inclusion of Curtis Fuller, the Blue Note trombone icon, and the warm recommendation and liner notes of jazz titan Benny Golson. Certainly, this was a CD to check out, and it turned out to be time well spent.

The opening track, the classic I Hear a Rhapsody, with arrangement by Oxman, has a full big band sound despite the small group Oxman uses. Veteran Al Hood is featured here as well as pianist Chip Stephens. The title track, an Oxman original, is opened by a bass intro by bassist Ken Walker, before Oxman’s tenor warmly mixes with Hood’s trumpet and Fuller’s trombone. A particular favorite track on the CD is Anna Kate, a great ensemble piece that swings effortlessly with the rhythm section leading the way. Another strong cut is Fuller’s Capn’ Kidd, which has a great infectious Latin groove seasoned by Oxman, Hood, and Stephens.

Two and Fro, an Oxman original, features just Oxman and drummer Reid. It is the only “out” track on the CD and a bit of a disappointment. Contrast that with the near-classic Darn That Dream, with a rare appearance of a jazz oboe solo, here done with panache by Peter Cooper. Chip Stephens does this classic melody proud on piano.

The Masquerade Is Over has some nice comping by Stephens behind Oxman with bassist Walker getting an extended solo. Joe Henderson’s song, Serenity, features pianist Stephens giving the piano a full workout before Oxman steps in to take over before bassist Walker gets more extended time on contrabass. Then Oxman closes with a reprise of the melody.

Two Wheel Nathan, an Oxman original blues features my man Curtis Fuller laying down blues lines followed respectively by Oxman, Hood, and Walker and a full band closing. Dues in Progress ends with a gorgeous 2:30 ballad rendition of Oxman’s tribute to Billy Strayhorn, titled Thirty-One for Strayhorn. It is a beautiful ending to a classy new release by Oxman, a tenor player to keep an eye on. It is also a testament to Benny Golson’s exquisite taste in young jazz talent keeping the jazz flames burning.

– Jeff Krow

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