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Overdue Ovation for Ray Anderson

Absolute resolve, in life & art

Ray Anderson

On Father’s Day, trombonist Ray Anderson, whose children are grown, celebrated with a door gig at the 55 Bar on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village. It was just past 6, and perhaps 10 patrons were present, including a gentleman with a pile of Anderson’s LPs and CDs for the leader to autograph later. Among them was Every One of Us, a 1992 date with Simon Nabatov, Charlie Haden and Edward Blackwell, which contains Anderson’s “Kinda Garnerish,” the evening’s kick-off number. After Anderson’s florid opening cadenza, bassist Mark Helias and drummer Tommy Campbell hit a funky groove, propelling an epic, swinging trombone solo; Anderson executed fast passages with trumpetistic clarity and brightness, and juxtaposed them to extravagantly vocalized bottom-register effusions.

“We’re warmed up now,” Anderson said. “Might as well move on to the abdominals.” He lit into “Right Down Your Alley,” the title track of a 1984 release with Helias and drummer Gerry Hemingway, still a collaborative unit called BassDrumBone. Anderson nailed the theme-fast, octave-leaping postbop passages, a jump-cut to a slow blues, another jump-cut to postbop-and launched chorus upon chorus of fresh ideas at a supersonic tempo, goosed by Campbell’s instant responses and Helias’ in-the-pocket basslines. Helias’ half-chorus lowered the volume to a subtone, introducing an open section. Campbell tone-painted harmonics on the cymbal; Anderson wove multiphonics and overtones into the flow with didgeridoo-like tone, telling the story with precisely calibrated roars, yowls, snorts, moans, squiggles, jabs and swoops.

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