Rick Faulkner
Waiting for the Rain
Laughing Buddha 99004

Rick Faulkner, trombone; Marty Ehrlich, alto saxophone; Patience Higgins, baritone saxophone and flute; Cary Brown, piano; Omer Avital, bass; Dan Freedman, drums; Kahlil Kwame Bell, percussion; Jessica Valiente, guiro (on "Pa'Cachao")

This is an impressive mainstream debut for former ska Jazz exponent Rick Faulkner, whose keen-edged trombone leads an accomplished septet through half a dozen of his engaging compositions and one standard, "I Cover the Waterfront." No sign of ska herenothing but straight-ahead contemporary Jazz of a high order, to which Faulkner and his talented but relatively unknown companions seem as partial as ducks to water. The front line of Faulkner, alto Marty Ehrlich, and baritone Patience Higgins (who doubles on flute) is designed to glean the maximum color and variation from each song and succeeds handsomely in doing so. The rhythm component is no less productive, with pianist Cary Brown comping and soloing persuasively while bassist Omer Avital, drummer Dan Freedman, and percussionist Kahlil Kwame Bell fashion a durable substructure without getting in anyone's way. Faulkner writes with clear-cut images in mind: a sunny afternoon on a main street in Cuba ("Pa'Cachao"), a sidewinding, fast-moving snake ("Python"), a mournful New Orleans funeral procession ("Those Left Behind"), or the moments before a sudden cloudburst in a forest ("Waiting for the Rain"). His impulsive horn, reminiscent at times of Curtis Fuller or Bennie Green, punctuates every melody, as do Ehrlich's singing alto and Higgins's gruff baritone. Faulkner is a talented player and writer whose opening skirmish embodies a fascinating glimpse of things to come.

by Jack Bowers

New Sounds - CD Reviews March 2000