You could say trombonist Clifton Anderson’s second album was a long time coming, but you’d be sorely understating the case. Decade is so named because it’s been 10 years since Anderson made his solo recording debut.
Those aware of the trombonist’s two-decades-plus association with tenor titan Sonny Rollins, his uncle, are apt to find numerous Sonny-like pleasures on Decade. Like his legendary mentor, Anderson is no slouch when it comes to putting a fresh spin on an unlikely pop tune—in this case, Bread’s 1971 hit “If”—or conjuring a festive calypso groove, as “Aah Soon Come” brightly illustrates.
Not coincidentally, the latter tune finds Anderson collaborating with two Rollins bandmates—bassist Bob Cranshaw and percussionist Kimati Dinizulu. Add a few more Rollins associates to the mix—pianist Stephen Scott, drummers Al Foster and Steve Jordan, plus saxophonist Eric Wyatt (the reedman’s godson)—and you begin to understand why Decade comes across as an extended family affair: soulful, lyrical, buoyant and impassioned by turns.
Anderson is in fine form throughout, combining an expressive tone with characteristic harmonic and rhythmic agility. The author of six of the album’s 10 selections, he also makes imaginative use of the remarkable talent assembled for this self-produced session, a shifting lineup that also boasts pianist Larry Willis, bassist Christian McBride and alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett. Stay tuned for “Stubbs,” a tribute to the late saxophonist John Stubblefield and the album’s final and most affecting original composition. Though it initially takes the form of an elegiac piano piece performed by Scott, the tune soon erupts into a swinging, emotionally stirring farewell powered by Anderson, Garrett and Jordan.