Forget scenes or subgenres: What vibe of jazz got you into this music? For this writer, it was the inimitable feeling of four or five musicians playing swinging blues in a cramped dining hall inches from your face, the ride cymbal skipping like a stone. If that’s your jam, absorb all the ’60s Blue Note and Impulse! music, then head straight for ’90s labels: HighNote, Savant, Criss Cross, et al. It won’t be long before you come across Brian Lynch.
Lynch is an undisputed, understated master of the trumpet. After releasing his debut album as a leader, 1986’s Peer Pressure, he performed in the final incarnation of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. That led to a succession of great solo records on Criss Cross, Sharp Nine, and other labels. But they were just that—other labels—and Lynch has owned his own, Hollistic MusicWorks, for a decade and a half. What’s a musician to do when he still loves his old stuff?
“I’m quite attached to all the tunes that I’ve written over the years,” Lynch stated in a press release, “and have often felt that they would benefit from a little attention in the form of new versions that would introduce them to contemporary listeners who may not be familiar with my earlier work.” This—along with a thirst for “artistic self-determination”—motivated him to make Songbook Vol. 1: Bus Stop Serenade, an album of fresh re-recordings of past material.
For the first volume (he’s planning others as we speak), Lynch went with some of his most trusted colleagues: alto saxophonist Jim Snidero, pianist Orrin Evans, bassist Boris Kozlov, and drummer Donald Edwards. Together at Red Rock Studio—10 minutes from Delaware Water Gap, Pa.’s legendary jazz club the Deer Head Inn, where they’d warmed up the night before—the quintet simply swung, their machine oiled by pure camaraderie and expertise.
The material here is uniformly excellent. The pedal-to-the-floor “On the Dot” delivers that heart-skipping feeling, the mid-tempo “Bus Stop Serenade” shimmies and sways, and “Before the First Cup” is a luminous ballad. Everything was cut in two takes; Lynch loved the first takes so much he included them on Disc 2. If you can’t get enough of straight-ahead jazz, here’s a generous helping from some of its greatest current practitioners. You might fall in love all over again.