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Andy McCloud and Gentlemen of Jazz: Blues for Bighead

Bassist Andy McCloud’s history has included work with Clifford Jordan, Don Pullen and Hilton Ruiz. He shows some of the diversity of that lineage on his album Blues for Bighead, by Andy McCloud’s Gentleman of Jazz, but the blues is always lurking beneath the surface. Vibist Steve Nelson, saxophonist Joe Ford and drummer Victor Jones join McCloud-with a cameo appearance by pianist Larry Willis. Recorded live to two-track analog at the Mapleshade studio in Maryland, the session has an open atmosphere, more about the general sense of musicians interacting in a room than a neat accounting of details. Sonically, it’s a vibe thing, suiting the naturalistic dialogue of the players. Unfortunately, the recording approach has left the leader low in the mix. All the tunes are from McCloud’s pen, from the easy bluesiness of the title track to the moody feel of “Waltz for a Nebulous Woman” and the burning, uptempo “I’m Tired of Talking.” The players obviously get this music, and turn in some intense solos, particularly Nelson, who is at once smart and passionate in his playing.

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