Greeting’s jazz lovers, I’m back with another tasty mix of jazz that’s undoubtedly shaken and well stirred from the shelves of the “Flux Music Essentials.” First up, I’ve got the innovative voice of trumpeter Russell Gunn heading the pack, meanwhile the mix thickens with the legendary keyboardist, producer, songwriter and mega-star Herbie Hancock makes his statement with “The New Standard,” also newcomer and extraordinary violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain is ready to rock your world. The exceptionally soulful Kirk Whalum on saxophone arrives with “Gospel According to Jazz,” and finally the beloved Yellowjackets featuring guitarist Mike Stern is the icing on the cake of this infallible groove called jazz.
Russell Gunn -|- Ethnomusicology 1 – [Atlantic / Wea, 1999]
Crossover recordings run an extraordinary risk of failing, or at least flailing. Trumpeter Russell Gunn’s avoids the former fate and, by and large, also escapes the latter. Consider this recording a sibling to his other early-1999 release, Love Requiem, which toes a straight-ahead acoustic jazz line while Ethnomusicology does something entirely different. Gunn’s ensemble crosses the wires of hip-hop and postbop, coming up with a slinky funk feel in spots (witness the opening groove bit with the Parliament-style pinched vocal welcoming listeners to the CD) but keeping a strong neobop improvisational vibe heavy and pervasive.
Gunn’s band gets great mileage from DJ Apollo’s turntables, especially on “Shiva” and the soul jazz-touched “Sybil’s Blues,” and pianist James Hurt plays fleet acoustic harmonies and uses the Fender Rhodes to its fullest ethereal potential. The horns are all at top capability, too, with trombonist Andre Heyward turning in splay-toned solos and saxophonists Gregory Tardy and Bruce Williams providing a nice one-two power beside Gunn’s confident, sharp-minded brass. —Andrew Bartlett Continue reading