David Schumacher is a bariman whose extroverted playing has buoyed the big bands of Lionel Hampton and Harry Connick, Jr. Looking for a chance to stretch and swing, Schumacher offers an attractive small group date featuring pianist Mike Ledonne, bassist Ben Wolfe and drummer Billy Drummond. Percussionists Sam Turner, Danny Sadownick and Jimmy Delgado add spice to the program of originals, and, on the first track, "Lucky in the Park," Schumacher's bari is shadowed by the stalking trumpet of Angel Fernandez.
In contrast to the Mulligan school favoring upper register arabesques, Schumacher, like Serge Chaloff, Cecil Payne and Pepper Adams, bubbles from the bottom. Setting off seismic tremors with a rumbling sound reminiscent of the snorting coal-burners that once carried the freight, Schumacher roars and soars. For the Vulcan-esque side of his persona, check out the title track and Rob Bargad's "The Long Goodbye." Among the Latin grooves, "Skleena's Dog" sets a funky pace. Schumacher also has his way with ballads such as the evocative "Smile School." In all, a cooking affair and first-rate leader debut. - Chuck Berg