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Album Review

There's not even the thinnest veiled reference to the fact that Cincinnati-based drummer Art Gore's main role model is Art Blakey, it's clearly evident from the get-go. But the title refers to the fact that Art Gore is his own man, presenting his music, firmly grounded in the Blue Note/Riverside post-bop sound. Alto saxophonist Gary Bartz guests on select tracks, but the core group from Cinci matches his excellence. Trumpeter Michael Wade, tenor saxophonist Scott Burns, pianist Steve Schmidt, bassist Jim Anderson, and percussionist Miguel Maldonado are all strong players who transcend the "local" tag of less-abled jazzmen. As a leader and composer (he wrote seven of the ten cuts), Gore dismisses soloing for the unified group concept, preferring to enliven, punctuate, shade, shape, and direct the music of this band without flash but plenty of punch. Wayne Shorter's "Back Stage Sally" and "You & I" most readily reflect the Jazz Messengers' sense of teamwork — the former a characteristic groove swinger with strong, pungent horn charts, the latter a modal waltz proving Gore a fine writer in this style, and showcasing Burns, who also proves his own personalized, non-cliched mettle. The unmistakable tart sweet sound of Bartz shines through during a pedal-pointed bass buoying the horns on "Secret Love," including a neat, concise solo from Wade. "Feelin' It" also has Bartz up front in a 6/8 modal framework that Schmidt is particular adept and comfortable in laying out, while the altoist moves straight ahead on the hard bopper "Little Man," and hits on his thinnish soprano sax during the fast bossa, percussion-dominant "Adam." Contrasting the others, some seascape sounds intro and outro "Beachfront," a traipse through Serengeti surf, with serene modal bass and piano informing rippling waves of soulful trumpet and tenor. The electric piano sound is the focal point during a funky, cha-cha-cha accented "Grandpa," reviving a lost popular link to jazz of 30 years past, while "Best of Both Worlds" is an easy, cool groove that Creed Taylor-ites and hard core jazzsters can equally relate to. The CD ends with a feature for Wade alone, with the trio on the slinky Sonny Rollins evergreen "Doxy." All in al, a pretty solid effort for Gore and his mates, one the jazz world should pay close attention to for an example of not only Blakey's work being further expounded on, but the fact that Art Gore is himself one helluva jazzman. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

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Artwork, Art Gore
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