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Album Review

Derrick Gardner's Jazz Prophets, up to ten pieces, is intent on presenting some of the strongest post-bop jazz music (not specifically ethnic as the title suggests) molded in the cast of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. There's a viscerally definable element, that of Woody Shaw's jazz ensembles from his award-winning Rosewood period of the late '70s. Trumpeter Derrick Gardner, trombonist Vincent Gardner, and saxophonists Rob Dixon, Brad Leali, and Jason Marshall provide this music with an uncompromising harmonic edge that parallels the brilliant and singularly individual music Shaw created in his most fruitful and critically acclaimed period. Both of the Gardners and Dixon are responsible for writing the original material that sounds so fresh and vital, with multiple layers of sound that make the band seem like a potent, joy-sprung big band. This great feeling of liberation and bold inventiveness is easy to hear and enjoy on "4Newk," a hard bop tribute to Sonny Rollins with rhythmic Latin conveyances from drummer Donald Edwards and the exceptional pianist Rick Roe driving the horn section into refined and outspoken refrains. The exceptional "We Jazz June" and "The Blackmoor" up the ante further with deft interwoven harmonic ideas and stirring rhythm changes, respectively. "Afros & Cubans" parallels the famous Shaw composition "Isabel the Liberator" in energy and depth, with descarga jam inferences from the high brass and low woodwinds. What "Mercury Blvd." offers is a highly modified version of "Skylark," sporting free introductory phrases into shout choruses abounding around big-city traffic. Roe's modal piano chords lead "Crystal Stair" as the prancing horns again identify a style Woody Shaw perfected with his Concert Jazz Ensemble. Derrick Gardner tackles Freddie Hubbard's "Melting Pot" in a tick-tock style with Latin jazz trim as if he's known the tune all his life, and likely has. Kevin Kaiser's African-style percussion lustily spices up the proceedings, while bassists Gerald Cannon and Brandon Meeks put the depth charges into this music without demanding more than a supportive role. Alto saxophonist Leali, tenor saxophonist Dixon, and baritone saxophonist Marshall are all formidable younger players who offer excellent solos, but more so provide the colorful harmonic flavors to complement the brass instrumentalists, playing loads of counterpoint and shading the nuances of the charts perfectly. This band strives for excellence, and for the most part succeeds on a recording that all listeners interested in modern mainstream jazz should pay close attention to. It's a winner. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Customer Reviews

In life follow a good sound

I listened to this album when I need to have a good day. Try it!

Echoes of Ethnicity, Derrick Gardner & The Jazz Prophets +2
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  • $9.90
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: Apr 14, 2009

Customer Ratings