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Jodie Christian: Front Line

For his third Delmark date, Chicago pianist Christian has hired a front line of big band veterans-alto saxophonist Norris Turney, tenor saxophonist Eddie Johnson, and trumpeter Sonny Cohn-and crafted sextet charts in a Basie-and-Ellington groove. The results are first class. The authentic Swing Era sounds begin with Ellington’s “In a Mellow Tone” and continue through to Neal Hefti’s “Splanky,” a Basie band anthem. The band also makes nice work of Wayne Shorter’s “Lester Left Town” and Miles Davis’ “All Blues,” tunes from a more modern era.

The underrated and versatile Christian shows all the traits that make Chicago pianists so likable: the clean attack, the ensemble-like block chords, a basic warmth, the feeling of the church and the blues, and an infectious sense of rhythm. His backbeat-laden title tune and pretty “Faith” fit right in with the honest flavor of the album. Bassist John Whitfield and drummer Ernie Adams or Gerryck King contribute solidly, as does Francine Griffin, who sings “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore.”

Originally Published