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Chuck Zeuren: Why Not?

Heavyweight jazz here. The players may not be all that familiar, but they possess strong chops, a sense of the ensemble, and the right spirit. The leader is a drummer with an enviable resume (Berklee College and gigs with Lovano, the Breckers, Bergonzi, Tom Harrell, et. al.) and a flair for the Tony Williams (out of Alan Dawson and Max Roach) school of percussion. His sidemen include trumpeter Shunzo Ono, tenor saxophonist Dave Finucane, pianist Roger Wilder, bassist Dick Sarpola and percussionist Cafe.

Zeuren wrote all nine tunes on the album. They’re a varied lot, from the lovely Latin melody “Wuz Up?” and the lyrical ballad “Old Friend” to the Miles-and-Wayne-like “Boos” and the exotic “At Last” (not to be confused with the standard of the same name). Ono, a canny, mature soloist, leaves his influences’ calling cards in quite a few solos (you hear primarily Miles, muted and open, and Hubbard), but he’s not a slave to them. Is Finucane from Texas? He plays with a lot of sinewy strength, bravado and soul but sometimes with a softer touch that recalls Hank Mobley, too.

The rhythm section is uniformly hip. Is Wilder playing a Fender Rhodes in the ensemble passages? Sure sounds like it. Sarpola demonstrates both basic strength and fine-motor-skill agility in his fingers. Zeuren crackles with energy. Cafe adds a complementary touch.

Originally Published