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Gerald Cannon: Combinations (Woodneck)

Britt Robson's review of album by versatile bassist

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Cover of Gerald Cannon album Combinations
Cover of Gerald Cannon album Combinations

The title of bassist Gerald Cannon’s first disc since 2004 takes note of the fact that none of the 11 songs—five of them Cannon originals—feature the same configuration of musicians. But this is no hodgepodge. Ten cohorts who had previously shared a bandstand with the bassist convened over a two-day period to knock out material specifically tailored to their talents.

Cannon has made a mosaic out of guest stars and personal tributes. An original composition for his late mother, “Amanda’s Bossa,” features the creamy unison horns of alto saxophonist Sherman Irby and trumpeter Jeremy Pelt presaging the elegant Kenny Barron on piano. For his late father, Benjamin, a guitarist for a band called the Gospel Expressions, Cannon duets with guitarist Russell Malone on the spiritual “How Great Thou Art.” Alto saxophonist Steve Slagle’s lone appearance has him kicking off Duke Ellington’s “Prelude to a Kiss” with a honey-dripping solo. When he wants to wring a mix of postbop and R&B that alto player Gary Bartz is especially suited for, he plucks Living Colour drummer Will Calhoun for his single contribution on “Gary’s Tune.”

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