The Blue Note 7 – Mosaic – A Celebration of Blue Note Records – Blue Note 50939 2 28123 2 2 ***** [Distr. by EMI]:
(Nicholas Payton, trumpet; Steve Wilson, alto sax & flute; Ravi Coltrane, tenor sax; Peter Bernstein, guitar; Bill Charlap, piano; Peter Washington, bass; Lewis Nash, drums)
This stellar septet was put together to tie in with the 70th anniversary of the Blue Note record label, founded in 1939 by German emigrant jazz fans Alfred Lion and Frank Wolff. The idea is for the band to work with the powerful hard bop that has been Blue Note’s stock and trade and to reinterpret the music thru new arrangements and solos. The band will be touring more than 50 American cities, beginning with an appearance at the Portland Jazz Festival this month.
All the band’s members are top jazzmen. Bill Charlap is musical director. He played with Phil Woods and Gerry Mulligan and has had his own trio since 1997. Ravi Coltrane is the son of Alice and John Coltrane. Saxist Steve Wilson has been a member of bands of both Chick Corea and Maria Schneider. Guitarist Peter Bernstein has played with Lou Donaldson and Lee Konitz as well as several organ-led groups, including Dr. Lonnie Smith. Nicholas Payton has played trumpet with Art Blakey and Wynton Marsalis and was Elvin Jones’ musical director. Drummer Lewis Nash was in Tommy Flanagan’s Trio for a decade, and has recorded and toured with many top jazz artists, while bassist Peter Washington was part of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and has become the bassist in Bill Charlap’s Trio.
The eight tracks are all tunes by other top names in jazz, including Joe Henderson, McCoy Tyner, Thelonius Monk, Horace Silver, Duke Pearson, Herbie Hancock, Cedar Walton and Bobby Hutcherson. But they aren’t the often overplayed choices – probably the most familiar to most listeners will be Monk’s Criss Cross and Hancock’s Dolphin Dance. All are six to eight minutes length with plenty of time for some terrific solos. The septet is tight and hard-driving and the sonics are excellent. Happy Anniversary, Blue Note!
TrackList: Mosaic, Inner Urge, Search for Peace, Little B’s Poem, Criss Cross, Dolphin Dance, Idle Moments, The Outlaw.
– John Henry