Monday, February 5, 2018

Phil Stewart "Melodious Drum"

Let's start out by wondering if the title of this CD is a veiled reference to one Thelonious Monk. Must be, in my not so humble opinion. Be that as it may, rapidly ascending New York drummer Phil Stewart has assembled some fellow Gotham monsters for this session. Probably the two most familiar names are Stewart's brother, Grant, a sensational tenor sax man, and trumpet great Joe Magnarelli. The remainder of this equally impressive cast includes Chris Byars who alternates with and sometimes joins Grant Stewart on tenor; in the pocket pianist Sacha Perry; and another new name to me, bassist Paul Sikive. Three bop era classics are featured here. Dizzy's "Manteca", Bud Powell's "Dance Of The Infidels", and the aforementioned Monk's rarely heard "Eronel" (spell it backwards!). An absolute fave is George Coleman's "Apache", a ripping rewrite on the changes to "Cherokee". The surprise of the disc is the former Tony Bennett hit "This Is All I Ask", featuring Grant's sensuous tenor sax. All told this is a no gimmicks, straight ahead jazz performance by gifted players, all of whom are keeping the flame bright and alive.

Cellar Live; 2017; appx. 66 min.

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