I have just finished my second listening of trumpeter TERRELL STAFFORD’s new CD entitled THIS SIDE OF STRAYHORN on Max Jazz. It’s still in my car and will remain there for sometime as this record for me represents perfection! I know that ‘perfect’ is a big word but it’s honestly what came to my mind after listening to this album. It’s jazz the way (in my humble opinion) it should be played and it embodies everything a jazz record should be. First of all the concept of doing all Strayhorn tunes is one that I’m sure has been down on many occasions but with pianist BRUCE BARTH at the helm handling all the arrangements, the tunes really take on new life (not that the tunes themselves needed new life). Barth did a masterful job at arranging the Strayhorn classics from top to bottom not to mention swinging his ass off in the process. Tenor saxophonist TIM WARFIELD plays wonderfully and everything he plays is beautifully tasty! Bassist PETER WASHINGTON … well I can’t say too much about him that hasn’t already been said. His groove is so deeply rooted and so natural and his sound is absolutely phenomenal and his hookup with drummer DANA HALL is special. I heard this quintet live at The Village Vanguard and Hall was the absolute highlight for me. So hard swinging and intense but not loud and over-bearing. Then of course there is Terrell himself…….doing what so many musicians forget about and that is swinging hard, having fun and remembering that there is humor, beauty, sorrow, fun, anger, sadness and every other emotion inside this great music and if you let those feeling come out of our horn it’s a real treat to listen to!
5 stars in my book…but what the hell do I know?