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September 2007

Vincent Gardner
The Good Book—Chapter One
SteepleChase

Trombonist Vincent Gardner pays homage to a couple of his forebears with discerning taste on The Good Book—Chapter One, in this case honoring the compositional efforts of Frank Foster, one of his employers, and Horace Silver, who hired Gardner’s father, trumpeter Burgess, in the ’80s. Five of the CD’s eight tracks feature Foster tunes, including his widely known “Shiny Stockings,” and the remainder are linked to Silver, highlighting his classics, “The African Queen” and “Que Pasa?”

While the music is fairly standard fare with little out of the ordinary, the frontline playing by Gardner, tenor and soprano saxophonist Walter Blanding and pianist Marc Cary is first-rate. Rounding out the unobtrusive support are bassist Greg Williams and drummer Quincy Davis. Some may see a link to Wynton Marsalis because both Gardner and Blanding are part of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, but the easygoing nature of this recording should dispel those thoughts in short order. This quintet’s best work is found on the three tracks tied to Silver, the aforementioned pair, plus the Joe Henderson tune, “Mo’ Joe.” Standing out among the Foster works are the opening “Love Handles” and “Shiny Stockings.”

Gardner’s sound is mellow but contains enough toughness to keep things interesting. Saxophonist Blanding generally chooses to play one of his horns in ensembles, then shift to the other for his solos (opening with soprano, soloing with tenor and vice versa). Both horn players offer solid and mostly inspired work throughout, although neither has reached the stage where they could be considered distinctive voices. Cary is somewhat more his own man and makes good use of the solo space he is granted.

Originally published in September 2007
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