This is probably the last of the double-bass mini series that I accidentally started last week. The recently completed Scott Colley piece hasn't been published by the magazine yet, so unless I want to get sacked by the editor (which I don't) or I uncover an old review that I've missed, the well has finally run dry!!
As always, I try to develop a strand that might get the reader thinking, instead of just describing the music piece by piece. This CD is a good example of that approach - I deal with the music of course, but the points I cover early on about how the music is marketed and how consumers have already had a lot of the choices about what they can buy made for them are to me the most interesting features of the review.
Incidentally, Bill Shoemaker reviewed this same CD in the October 2002 edition of the magazine. Not sure how that came about, but needless to say Bill did a far more eloquent job than yours truly!!
JUSTIN TIME (175-2)
Snake Eyes; Shape Shifting; A Walk In Serendipity; Love Transforms; Two Heartbeats; Ovieda; Pas De Trois; Blues For J.A.; Carmen.
Mark Shim (ts); Anthony Wonsey (p); John Hicks (p); Steve Nelson (vib); Curtis Lundy (b); Billy Hart (d).
Recorded October 2001.
Curtis Lundy has made the continuation of the modern jazz tradition his purpose for some 25 years now. Arriving in New York in the late 1970s, just before the commencement of the Marsalis era, Lundy should have been swept along by the ‘Young Lions of Jazz’ marketing machine. Rather like Bobby Watson, he had an abundance of talent but was just that little bit too old to be considered a teenage sensation. This didn’t prevent him from taking up high profile engagements with Johnny Griffin, Betty Carter and Bobby Watson’s group ‘Horizon’, but ‘Purpose’ is only his third record as a leader, somewhat unfortunate given his impeccable credentials.
Instrumentally, and often stylistically, the record nods to Bobby Hutcherson and Joe Henderson’s frequent Blue Note collaborations of the 1960s. The presence of John Hicks on three tracks and Billy Hart throughout suits Lundy’s project of subtly blending the new with the old. Mark Shim has youth on his side and his forthright soloing in the Henderson vein makes me regret the brevity of his own recent Blue Note contract. Nelson, a contemporary of Lundy, should need no introduction given his ubiquitous and consistently excellent contributions to scores of recent recordings.
All of the pieces come from within the band, with the best material stacked towards the front end of the disc. ‘Snake Eyes’ coils and slithers as its reptilian inspiration would suggest, ‘Shape Shifting’ roars along at breakneck speed, and the standout ‘A Walk In Serendipity’ lopes with a casually infectious funk groove that reminds me just why we need people like Lundy to keep this flame burning. A slight lacuna follows with a clutch of bland and overly-sentimental mid-tempo and ballad pieces, before the ensemble then stretch out on ‘Blues For J.A.’, and a dedication to Curtis’ sister ‘Carmen’.
Whilst the high watermarks of the classic Blue Note era are seldom approached, this is nevertheless quality contemporary mainstream jazz, played, of course, with purpose.
(Jazz Review, July 2003)