Jonathan Bauer (trumpet): Alexander Geddes (saxophone): Ryan Hanseler
(piano): Alex Dyring (bass): Gerald Watkins Jr (drums)
Walk, Don’t Run
Ella (for Ella Ell)
We Need To Do Better
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
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.