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12/26/11

Chuck Redd
The Common Thread
Arbors Records

Chuck Redd is a deft, subtle vibraphonist who surrounds himself with equally talented and experienced musicians. He’s the equivalent of a midlist author: no blockbuster but dependable and reassuring. The Common Thread is enjoyable for its skillful blend of imagination and modesty.

Propelled by similarly light-fingered drummer Mickey Roker and the highly selective bassist Bob Cranshaw, Redd turns in standards spanning a luminous, watery “The Shadow of Your Smile” and a seductive “Moonlight in Vermont”; should-be standards like Ellington’s sultry “Purple Gazelle” and Tommy Flanagan’s breakneck “Beat’s Up” (cool pun), a showcase for the rhythm section, particularly the nicely florid pianist Rossano Sportiello; and revamps like “Old Man Roker,” Redd’s tribute to his drummer and “Ol’ Man River” scribe Jerome Kern. Soul saxman Houston Person lends earthiness and funk to four selections.

Don’t call Redd a throwback, even though his music is accessible and largely familiar. His is the kind of group one hopes to stumble upon in a jazz club. Redd’s touch and fluid sense of harmony stand out, as does his choice of musicians; Redd can sure pick them, not surprising considering this D.C. jazzman has worked with everyone from Charlie Byrd to Dizzy Gillespie. The Common Thread is expert mainstream jazz designed to give pleasure rather than provoke—an album to visit again and again, discovering more wit and depth each time.

Originally published in December 2011
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