Ralph Bowen – Dedicated – Posi-Tone PR8052, 42:24 ***1/2:
(Ralph Bowen, tenor sax; Sean Jones, trumpet; Adam Rogers, electric guitar; John Patitucci, bass; Antonio Sanchez, drum
Canadian Ralph Bowen was a member of Out of the Blue, a group of “young lions” put together by Blue Note Records in the mid to late 1980s to showcase the new generation of young talent. Playing primarily hard bop, the staple of Blue Note’s success, Out of the Blue produced four albums before breaking up. Members Kenny Garrett and drummer Ralph Peterson, have gone on to find the greatest success, but tenor saxist, Ralph Bowen, has done quite well for himself as well, recording four Criss Cross CDs, before moving on to the new Posi-Tone label.
For his Posi-tone debut, Bowen decided to make a CD dedicated to musical influences. All six compositions are self-penned, and each is dedicated to a different artist. Bowen has moved beyond the usual dedications to jazz titans like Sonny Rollins, Charlie Parker, and Miles Davis. Bowen has chosen less well known musicians such as saxophonist Pat La Barbera and Eugene Rousseau.
Bowen’s group is a piano-less quintet and uses the services of upcoming trumpet star, Sean Jones, as well as guitarist Adam Rogers, and the renowned bassist John Patitucci. Canary Drums opens the CD and is for Keith Blackley. Bowen has a mid-register pleasing tone, and the band provides solid backing for his playing. Pat, written for the aforementioned LaBarbera follows and is a winning ballad which provides Rogers with a soft spoken guitar solo, before Bowen explores the outer reaches of his tenor. Qaiyam has a similar flavor, anchored by Adam Rogers with some effective drum accents by Sanchez. Mr. Bebop dedicated to David Baker, is effective for its ensemble playing and has the closest sounding feel to Blue Note’s Out of the Blue. Prof, which I surmise is written for one of Bowen’s teacher’s William Fielder, is a vehicle for Bowen to show his tenor prowess. Dedicated is closed out with ER (for Eugene Rousseau) – a totally unaccompanied four-minute Bowen solo. It’s a nice finish to Bowen’s debut for Posi-Tone, a new label made up of upcoming stars. We reviewed one of their early issues by One for All’s trumpet star, Jim Rotondi, recently. The addition of Bowen to their roster is a smart move.
TrackList: Canary Drums, Pat, Qaiyam, Mr. Bebop, Prof, E.R.
– Jeff Krow