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Reviewers: Glyn Pursglove, Jonathan Woolf

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JONATHAN BAUER

Walk, Don’t Run

PRIVATE [42:53]

 

 

Jonathan Bauer (trumpet): Alexander Geddes (saxophone): Ryan Hanseler (piano): Alex Dyring (bass): Gerald Watkins Jr (drums)

Chattin’

Precious Moments

Walk, Don’t Run

Ella (for Ella Ell)

Violet

Blue’s Funk

We Need To Do Better

The Closer

Trumpeter and composer Jonathan Bauer was born in Alberta, Canada, and as a young musician played in a big band in British Columbia. In 2014 he relocated to New Orleans, receiving a Masters in Music at the University there. He’s now a member of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra and has his own Jonathan Bauer Project.

His ethos is Hard Bop to Hargrove (Roy of that ilk) but he has a flexible tone and to my ears it hints at one or two great players who don’t fit either that time span or that genre. The eight tracks by his quintet showcase fellow Big Easy practitioners in a 42-minute première recording venture from the Canadian.

All the compositions are by Bauer. The opener is Chattin’ (a solid sounding Horace Silver-like, title) that reveals tight, brisk unisons between Bauer and saxophonist Alexander Geddes and some dyed in the wool soloing from the two-man front line supported crisply by the experienced rhythm section of Ryan Hanseler (piano), Alex Dyring (bass) and Gerald Watkins Jr (drums). Precious Moments has a pop-sounding title but is rather a lightly fluent near-ballad with some blues hints in Bauer’s soloing – he has a fine, ringing, brassy tone to boot. The title track is a Blues Funk – Messengers style - with righteous tonguing from the leader and a Down Home feel to his soloing. Hanseler’s deceptively quiet, almost cosmopolitan playing soon generates a powerful charge of its own, with Watkins proving an ensemble-focused tower of strength, uninclined to drop bombs or showboat.

There’s a retro feel to Ella (for Ella Ell) and a solid unison-solo arrangement follows with Hanseler forsaking the piano for a keyboard cousin not far adjacent to a Fender Rhodes. The odd man out in the programme is Violet, a misconceived number that opens with a bass solo and percussion wash that ushers in some sour and harmonically discursive, freer playing. Fine if that’s the metier but in this Bop context, it’s a stylistic aberration. Happily, the remaining tracks get back on the road. There’s a loping Blue’s Funk (clever use of the apostrophe) with a Mingus-Cannonball kind of vibe to it though their roots in jump music are also, ultimately, the roots for this one too. We Need To Do Better is a really slow solo piano ballad and a suitable vehicle for the melancholic, but pretty taste of Hanseler. To end there’s a funky twister cum finger snapper called – wait for it – The Closer that comes with a gumbo of groove. I approve, as it were.

As usual, I don’t much like discs with all originals and no standards. You’d have thought the Crescent City could be mined for something, at least, but young players seem to think their calling cards these days should be sans standards. Go tell that to Red Allen.

Still, Bauer is a strong, Bop-Hot player and he has a fine band.

Jonathan Woolf

 


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