The hyphenated forms of Jazz , such as Jazz-Rock, Jazz-Funk, Jazz–Fusion etc. have always given parts of the critical community fits, but the best of it has endured and developed a following both among the general public and musicians themselves. In a period where elements of the Jazz community are discussing whether the music has become too “abstract” to attract new listeners as well as recounting the fact that Jazz WAS once danceable and had melodies people could remember, being a little less persnickety about whether the hyphens are legitimate members of the family may be part of the answer to the question provided there is merit in the songs themselves.
That being said, Chicago-based trumpeter Fred Cantu, a go-to soloist in a few Jazz and Latin Jazz ensembles who also sports a history of working with some Salsa bands in the past, also fronts a fine big band, the Fred Cantu Bigband, and his live work covers a wide range of styles. His debut CD release, "Timeless", is a more tightly-focused small combo project that evokes the kinds of mixes of Jazz, Rock, R & B and Funk that you would find in the best work of groups like Chase and some of Maynard Ferguson's fusion work. There is enough meat in the solos (and the arrangements as a whole) to take the Jazz part of the equation seriously, but you could also dance to a lot of it if you wanted to.
In addition to Fred on trumpet and flugelhorn, the band features Joel Moore on tenor sax, Matt Nelson on keyboards, Tim Seisser on bass and Frank Alongi on drums. In addition to five originals by Fred ("Second Chance", "Timeless", "M. F. G.", "Nick's Place" and "The Zipper",) the recording covers “Body and Soul” with an R & B feel and “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”
This writer’s favorite track was “Timeless”, which provided a lot of space for the full ensemble to stretch out with some Jazz/Funk solos. Overall, the album is recommended listening for any Jazz enthusiast who does not suffer from Funk, Soul and Rock allergies along with bonafide fans of the hyphens. This may be danceable, but it’s thinking man’s dance music, and Fred’s trumpet and flugel solos, which put his excellent upper register to good use, are unlikely to land him in the easy listening bin or whatever they call that nowadays…
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