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Tom McCormick

South Beat

(Self Produced) 2016

 

 

 

 

 

1. South Beat

  1. Iridescence

  2. Mantra

  3. User Friendly

  4. Naima

  5. Barbara

  6. My Foolish Heart

  7. Blue Cha

  8. Feel the Spirit

  9. Alone Together.

    Tom McCormick: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute
    Pete Wallace: piano
    Nicky Orta: electric bass (1, 2, 4, 8, 10)
    Eric England: acoustic bass, electric bass (3, 5, 6, 7, 9) Carlomagno Araya: drums, percussion (1, 2, 4, 8, 10) David Chiverton: drums (3, 5, 6, 7, 9)
    Edwin Bonilla: congas, bongo
    Humberto Ibarra: guiro
    Doug Michels: trumpet, flugelhorn
    John Kricker: trombone
    Jonathan Kreisberg: guitar (3)
    Leo Quintero: guitar (9)
    John Lovell: trumpet, flugelhorn (1, 2, 6, 8, 10).

  10. Originally from Baltimore, Tom McCormick has been a fixture as performer and educator on the South Florida jazz scene for over twenty-five years. He was for many years the principal saxophonist with the Miami Symphony and his website testifies to the fact that he has played with a striking roster of giants. His latest album South Beat contains six appealing originals that are supplemented by re-workings of the standards ‘My Foolish Heart’, and ‘Alone Together’, one of Horace Silver’s more neglected pieces in the form of the beautiful ballad ‘Barbara’, and a respectful arrangement of John Coltrane’s ‘Naima’. On first listening, South Beat strikes one as an excellently executed, if rather conventional, contemporary hard bop album. The arrangements are in the style of Horace Silver, and are always pleasing if rarely too surprising. The melodic beauty of the tunes is emphasized throughout and invariably followed by some exemplary, idiomatic soloing.

    Yet, familiarity with the album leads to an appreciation of its distinctiveness. Despite the global reach of jazz and the widespread dissemination of a post-bop improvisational vocabulary, the music continues to retain the ability to embody and communicate regional and local diversity. The title refers to Miami’s tourist mecca "South Beach", a cultural cross-roads where American jazz combines with Latin, Caribbean and Latin influences. There is something of Miami in the sound. A track such as ‘Iridescence’, for example, seems to draw on Caribbean influences, with the rhythmic fabric enlivened by the addition of Costa Rican-born drummer Carlomagno Araya on the congas and bongos played throughout by Edwin Bonilla. On tracks such as the catchy original ‘User Friendly’, these rhythmic influences are the leaven in the hard-bop loaf, and give the album it’s sunny disposition and uplifting mood.

    McCormick is an interesting and varied soloist on tenor and soprano saxophones, whether unwrapping Joe Henderson-esque ideas as on ‘Alone Together’ or digging into a bluesier terrain as on the funky ‘Feel the Spirit’. McCormick appears on the cover in white trousers and hat, a pose that lacks any pretension. There’s no egotistic grand-standing here, nor any post-Coltrane spirituality. He approaches his music, and the jazz tradition, with respect and humility, as do his sidemen. John Lovell makes his presence felt when he appears on trumpet and Pete Wallace is as tasteful in his soloing as he is in his comping. The sound balance, and the balance between soloists, is perfect throughout, with no one hogging the limelight.

    Self-produced and self-promoted, it may be assumed that the album is designed to be snapped up at live gigs. But it is a very fine album that offers much more than warmed up versions of well-worn formulae. South Beat deserves a wide audience.

    Daniel G. Williams




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