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Greg Bandy: Lightning In A Bottle

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Lightning In A Bottle introduces drummer Greg Bandy as a leader on this impressive debut. After years of driving the bands for the likes of Pharoah Sanders, Jackie McLean and more recently Gary Bartz, the Cleveland-based performer has assembled a formidable ensemble comprised of saxophonist Gary Bartz, cornetist Olu Dara, pianist Donald Smith and bassist Alex Blake to deliver an intoxicating program of hard bop, calypso, blues and modal jazz.

Much of Bandy’s debut features both his compositional skills, which have more of an affinity for the blues, calypso and funk than bop, and his humorous crooning. On the title track, Bandy shouts the blues with an arresting growl, while Dara offers some delightful harmonica fills and Bartz spits out a fiery alto solo. The ribald “Good Booty And Barbecue” has a stripped-down go-go feel that recalls the early days of Chuck Brown and The Soul Searchers.

While the recording offers glimpses of Bandy as the all-encompassing entertainer, both he and ensemble fare much better on standards like Coltrane’s “Miles’ Mode,” where Bandy pushes Bartz’s swirling alto lines and Smith’s torrential piano runs with hurricane force, and Parker’s “Anthropology,” which features Smith delivering a wonderful Pullen-esque solo.

The rawness and overexposure of Bandy’s singing and erratic programming slightly obscures the enjoyment of this recording, but even at its corniest, Lightning In A Bottle contains some high-voltage performances.