Cecil Bridgewater: Mean What You Say

Titled after a Thad Jones tune heard on the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra’s debut album more than 30 years ago, this album is a reminder of Bridgewater’s twisting, melodic, hard bop trumpet work. He and tenor saxophonist Ron Bridgewater, his brother, are joined by a beautiful rhythm section: pianist Mulgrew Miller, bassist Kenny Davis, and drummer Billy Hart. Vocalist Vanessa Rubin appears on two tracks.

The album recalls the ’50s and early ’60s in its melodic warmth, the groove of the rhythm section, and the phrasing of the hornmen. The opener, Ron’s “In the Open,” is a complex blues line that the composer solos on with smooth, lithe phrasing. “Cannon’s Samba,” by Cecil, follows, with the trumpeter fanning the flames during his solo. On the title cut, the hornmen improvise several airy choruses together before the theme appears.

Cecil, most noted for his long tenure with Max Roach’s quartet, has also played in the Jones-Lewis Orchestra and with Horace Silver, among many others. This album is long overdue.