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Francois Houle: In The Vernacular

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With young tigers Wessell Anderson, Nicholas Payton, Mark Whitfield, and Peter Martin aboard this New Orleans express, driver Donald Edwards couldn’t go wrong in making his debut. The wide-ranging In the Vernacular shows him to be more than a promising drummer and composer. Edwards has been Whitfield’s regular drummer since 1992 and has also worked and recorded with Anderson. He delivers on this solid session with mature, interesting compositions with a variety of textures and grooves that inspire his invited guests. Edwards’ “Duke of Duckland” and “Dee-Gee Shuffle” are especially fine, and Whitfield adds special warmth to their version of Duke’s “Sophisticated Lady.” Edwards’ soloing bubbles to the top on “Truth or Consequence.” All in all, this session has the unison, depth, fire and confident soloing of the Jazz Messengers, whose Blakeyan influence no doubt spurred Edwards’ creative development. Like Anderson & Co., who caught the public’s fancy before them, Edwards, tenor saxophonist Brice Winston, and bassist Roland Guerin are emerging New Orleans players who should be heard from in the future.