Thursday, December 14, 2017

"Jazz Speak" Adrian Cunningham; tenor sax, clarinet, and flute

Woodwind master. That describes Adrian Cunningham. And he plays them all with unbridled joy and enthusiasm. I might add that any leader who surrounds himself with Ted Rosenthal piano; John Clayton, bass; and Jeff Hamilton, drums, is assured my attention. It should be clearly noted also that Cunningham can write lilting, varied melodies as well. The opener for example is a spirited, gospel-like entry called "The Source". "Getting Down Uptown" gives us a touch of funk while "Rachel's Dance", a flute feature, is a happy, rollicking, shuffle beat blues. "Appalachia" employs a head-shaking tempo that might be thought of as a jazz version of a bluegrass party. Then there's "Autumn Moon Over The Calm Lake". You'll picture a peaceful Japanese country scene. Standards include dependables like "Let's Fall In Love" and "Mood Indigo", and two rarely heard gems are also great choices: Sidney Bechet's "Petite Fleur" and Bud Powell's "Tempus Fugit" couldn't be more different from each other, but both are album highlights. Cunningham, in this stunning company, sounds as though he was destined to play this style of music. And he does it with blue ribbon results.

Arbors Records; 2017; appx. 62 min.

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