Ted Hogarth, baritone, C-melody, and tenor saxophones; Andy Baker, trombone; Jo Ann Daugherty, piano, Fender Rhodes, and electric piano; Bob Lovecchio, bass; Brian Schwab, trumpet and flugelhorn; Darren Scorza, drums
Pity the poor writer. To quote Aaron Copeland: "If a literary man writes two words about music, one of them will be wrong." Neil Tesser, who wrote the liner notes to this album, begins with "You are going to love this music." At which yours truly curled his supercilious British upper lip. He is right, though. My lip uncurled and my fingers popped. Thus it is Neil and me against Copeland.
The first thing that strikes home is that this is a cookin' album. I mean, like the tunes are all originals, but there is no stuck-to-a-theme rigidity, which could mean that the composers are geniuses.
The first track gets pretty funky, but don't misunderstand because this is pure Jazz in every sense. Is it something to do with Chicago? Sort of South Side.
Some of the ensemble writing has a James Brown touch. The funk rises every so often as a subtly inherent groove in this musical minestrone, plus meat. Cohesive, beautifully blended, the groove is a mutual thing. I love the persistent surge. You can run around the house shaking to this music. Could the rhythm guys be exorcising something?
This is all inside stuff because Ted Hogarth doesn't actually look funky in one of the pics. He looks studious in glasses, jacket, and tie, presumably trousers. There is long hair and an ear stud that could be a tuning device for aliens. But you just know that he is wicked. A musical magician. He has gentle, all-knowing eyes, eyes that would strike fear in a Stallone festooned with firearms. What dreams is he evoking with his variety of reeds?
There is a gritty, and sometimes sublime (which usually means flugelhorn), trumpet player, who has been everywhere, played everything, a consummate pro.
The pianist is a lady who plays with dark, occasionally vigorous, solemnity. She works well with the rhythm guys. I Googled Ms. Daugherty (sorry, Mrs.) and read some local US reviews, all of which are carefully constructed to avoid mentioning that the lady is a real beauty, although one chap said she is "a fox" (a disastrous statement in the UK, which could have her being chased across the heath by our dissolute nobility). Looks should by no means detract from talent; Mrs. Daugherty's talent is considerable, and if she wakes up less attractive tomorrow it won't matter for she swings in quite the best possible way.
Darren Scorza, who contributed two of the titles, has a slinky way of not being loud, even when he is required to come up front. This is quite a trick because it means that his art has been carefully culled of all noisy show.
Bassist Bob Lovecchio, like all of his kind, gets to solo occasionally and is then relegated quickly to the ranks. But Bob has something special to offer-namely that his solos are considered and pertinent, and his rhythm work is above all necessary to the overall success of this album.
Take a riding rhythm and you have the best backing for that ultimately hippest of all Jazz instruments, the trombone. Does Andy Baker know how to groove? He sure do! The perfect foil, in fact, for Hogarth himself on baritone. You could easily imagine them doing a duo album.
In the end, of course, Copeland wins. What can we say about music on paper that is even remotely applicable to the sounds you hear? Perhaps one could write fifty laudatory adjectives and have the reader discount half of them, thus fulfilling Copeland's one-in-two accusation.
Yours truly has now achieved forty-five years as a Jazz fan. Believe me, this is good Jazz. Jazz for people who wish to relax and enjoy. Anyone who doesn't dig this music simply does not like music.
Beethoven put it this way: "I would rather write 10,000 notes than one letter of the alphabet." No go buy the CD and listen to the notes.
By Lawrence Brazier