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Rick Stepton Sextet: Stiff Upper Lip

Trombonist Rick Stepton obviously has a droll sense of humor, writing a song called “Stiff Upper Lip” and dedicating it to the plastic surgeon who repaired facial injuries from a 1992 dog attack. The New York musician also has excellent musical taste, selecting trumpeter Herb Pomeroy and saxophonist Steve Marcus (both colleagues from his Buddy Rich years) to create a fiery front line for his second album.

This three-horn format cooks from start (Roland Kirk’s “Serenade to a Cuckoo”) to finish (three Stepton originals). They trade fours and eights, agilely adapting to each other’s riffs with infectious excitement. Their reading of Duke Jordan’s tribute to Art Blakey, “No Problem,” is an inventive samba that involves John Wilkins’ fluent guitar. Bronek Suchanek’s resonant bass enriches “Dreamcatcher” and the title track, two of four Stepton originals. Drummer Bob Gullotti, although more known for avant garde outings, is a straightahead propellant.

Originally Published