Tim_warfield-cool_blue_span3 Ron_mcclure-pink_cloud_span3 Clayton_englar-last_world_span3
December 1997

Tim Warfield
A Cool Blue
Criss Cross Jazz
Ron McClure Quartet
Pink Cloud
Naxos of America
Clayton Englar and Equinox
Last World
Global Village

These well-executed dates could all be considered modern-mainstream in approach. None of them are involved with any free blowing or boundary-breaking. All feature exceptional writing and arranging and the kind of tightness one associates with working bands.

Warfield's aggregation hearkens back to the mid-'60's Miles approach, and it occurs to me that those of us who still feel that Miles turned his back on not just his audience but the music itself when he went electric might be interested to see younger players going back to Miles' point of departure. Warfield (tenor), Terrell Stafford (trumpet) and Cyrus Chestnut (piano) are all accomplished players at their best, I think, with the more cerebral abstractions they get into on the faster tunes. The soloing on the slower standards is more predictable. Bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Clarence Penn are solid.

Equinox has a unique sound with salsa-like elements-drummer plus congas, Latin figures and rhythms, a bright feeling. The pieces are more involved, harmonically and structurally, than salsa, and the group sound, which is held together by Pete Chauvette's vibes and marimba, is all its own. The two man percussion section is really excellent, the arrangements are first class, and Joe Jackson's trombone and the leader's tenor and soprano sound great together. The horn solos are fairly surprise-free, however.

McClure's record reminds me a bit of some of Stan Getz' '60's work. There is an overt concern for prettiness and it takes strong players not to fall into sentimentality with this approach. One thing that really helps here are the superior lines that McClure has written, but the success of this date owes to the like-minded players McClure has assembled. Rick Margitza owes as much to Coltrane as to someone like Getz, and pianist Jon Davis and drummer Jeff Williams never take a wrong step.

I suppose it is inevitable that the soloists on these recordings are rarely as convincing as the generation which defined these musical parameters. Nobody here sounds as if their life depends on what they come up with next. Then again, maybe they're not concerned with that, and in any case I'm not complaining-all three records are successful on their own terms.

Originally published in December 1997
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