Jazz is about taking chances. Generally, however, it’s better for a player to go into combat carrying a bazooka than a slingshot. In the proper context, Roy Campbell is one of the premiere jazz trumpeters. On this, however, he and co-leader Burton Greene take on a set of relatively straightahead compositions, a battle for which Campbell is not well armed.
Tone, inflection, rhythm and melody—and an unfettered imagination, of course—are Campbell’s strengths. His best work is made vivid by emotional depth and facilitated by the removal of constraints. Campbell has trouble with these postboppish tunes, struggling with intonation and scuffling noticeably with the written melodies.
Greene does the chord-based thing just fine. He’s in top form, although I prefer his freer side and get antsy when he stays “in” for too long. Bassist Adam Lane does a good job, and drummer Lou Grassi is an effective foil for Greene, thinking along with and reacting to the pianist exceptionally well. The band shines when it ditches the frame and splashes pigment across the canvas. There’s a lot of that here, but Campbell’s problems with the material are hard to ignore.