Thursday, August 12, 2010

Rotondi's Art

1000 Rainbows - Jim Rotondi (Posi-tone Records) - Jim Rotondi is a trumpeter out of the Freddie Hubbard/ WoodyShaw school with roots in Clifford Brown (his sweet articulated notes remind this listener of Brownie.) On record, he rarely ventures into unknown territory and that's just fine because his music never sounds stale.  Surrounded by veterans like Joe Locke (vibraphone) and Bill Stewart (drums) and younger players Danny Grissett (piano) and Barak Mori (bass), this program is well-played and plenty of fun for the listener.

It may take one a minute or so before you realize the band is hitting on Lennon & McCartney's "We Can Work It Out" but it's a smart reworking. Locke glides over the dancing drum work and fine chordal interjections from Grissett before Rotondi jumps in with an assertive solo. The title track is from the pen of Buddy Montgomery, the bassist brother of guitarist Wes and is a medium-tempo confection with a bluesy bass line and a  hint of parade drums from Stewart.  Rotondi stays in the horn's mid-range for most of his long solo, really working through the changes. Locke takes over and builds his groove off of the drum patterns. Mori is rock-solid beneath the band, really filling out the sound. The trumpeter swings his socks off on the opening chorus of his original "Gravitude", moving aside for a short vibes solo and then flying over the changes with an energetic and often fiery solo.  "Born to Be Blue" sounds like the kind of music one makes on a rainy day, an smoothly played ballad with sweet solos from the leader and Grissett (Locke sits out this track.)  Rotondi uses a mute for the high-stepping "49th Street", a Bill Mobley composition replete with a dominant bass line (and strong solo), sharp, classy, brushes work and a quick knockout solo from Grissett.  One of the highlights is the vibes/trumpet duo that closes the program.  "Not Like This" is a heart-felt ballad that British-born arranger Jeremy Lubbock wrote for Al Jarreau.  Here, Locke plays the introduction unaccompanied, his notes swirling and reverberating -  Rotondi enters and delivers the melody without needless embellishments. The piece is a perfect capper to this most musical experience.

Jim Rotondi has a winner on his hands with "1000 Rainbows" - he and his cohorts may not be "breaking new ground" but this swinging session satisfies the soul.  For more information, go to www.posi-tone.com.

Take a listen to Rotondi's "Bizarro World", courtesy of Posi-Tone Records and IODA Promonet:

Bizzaro World (mp3)

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