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Malachi Thompson: 47th Street

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Much of the music here comes from a musical production called “The Sutherland,” which was an important part of the black cultural center that 47th Street in south side Chicago once was. If playwright Charles Smith does as well with his craft as he does with the liners here, “The Sutherland” should be excellent. JT readers aren’t likely to buy this CD because of the tie-in, but there are plenty of other good reasons, starting with Thompson’s attractive trumpet work. He adapts his playing, with a minimum of fine tuning, to a gamut of styles from blues and swing to hard bop and free jazz. You could say that one hears the range and rambunctiousness of Lester Bowie tempered with some of Booker Little’s purpose and lyricism. One hears Chicago, that’s for sure. The supporting cast, while too extensive to credit individually, is never less than excellent. It can be admitted that a couple of the songs are more show than jazz-oriented, but they are very well done, and the jazz writing and arranging sparkles. Billy Harper sounds as relaxed as Thompson with the shifting styles, and fellow tenor Carter Jefferson and trombonist Steve Berry make strong impressions. A proud statement by all concerned.