Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
An Undiscovered Gen
Paul Kelly | Poole, England | 04/18/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first saw Lew Soloff playing in 1978 with the legendary Gil Evans Orchestra. Soloff was joined in the trumpet section by Ernie Royal and Hannibal Marvin Peterson, neither of whom were trumpet slouches. Whilst Peterson's solos were like a slow burning fuse, building to an incendiary climaxes, Soloff played baroque-like excursions that danced like a high-kicking pony.
All that was nearly 30 years ago and whilst I have never forgotten Soloff and have seen his name crop up from time to time on album credits, I had never properly checked out his subsequent playing - though I have him on a splendid Gil Evans Live in Germany small band session from the same time.
A recommendation by British jazz trumpeter Steve Waterman sent me on a reconnaissance mission and turned up `Little Wing'. Now there are many CDs I get which are well played and recorded but somehow never quite hit the mark. In contrast, `Little Wing' is in a different league. Produced by the wonderful Steve Swallow it hums and crackles with contemporary vigour and abundant colour. This is heavyweight playing by a heavyweight band in which organs and synthesisers feature richly in the mix giving the band the power to compete with many a rock outfit. But don't get me wrong, whilst this album has much of the sass of rock - and nothing wrong with that - it has all the finesse and sparkle of the finest jazz.
Soloff's trumpet has wonderful warmth and richness in the mid register and he periodically leaps into the upper stratosphere with squeals and wails. Trombonist Ray Anderson also plays `up there' with abandon, so much so that sometimes it sounds like there are two trumpets. Stand out cuts are Bassist Mark Egan's `True Confessions' which has a gorgeous spaciousness similar in manner to Billy Cobham's `Heather'. Carla Bley's `Healing Power' turns from a shimmering opening into a sort of heavy metal jazz-funk-blues with vocoder from Pete Levin and a witty reference from Soloff to Miles Davis' `Jean Pierre'. And the title track - Jimi Hendrix's gorgeous `Little Wing' - opens with a fine bass solo from Mark Egan before a yearning rendition of the theme that takes its cue from the Gil Evans band. The sound quality is superb and the arrangements full of interest - due no doubt to producer Steve Swallow.
This CD is now 14 years old. But `Little Wing' still hits the mark and sounds fresh today. Without doubt an undiscovered gem.