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Album Review

Taking his first steps with the Origin label, longtime trombone sideman Benny Powell takes his own band for a spin, focusing entirely on original compositions from himself and his comrades in arms. The album opens with a nice piece of New Orleans-infused composition that makes full use of Powell's trombone in a second-line form, showing off the horn in a traditionally leading manner, rather than relegating it to a place in a larger ensemble. "The Township Diary" brings a more laid-back approach to the sound, emphasizing sax player T.K. Blue's alto a bit more, with a bubbling bass underneath courtesy of Essiet Essiet. Pianist Sayuri Goto's first contribution to the album, "Best People," uses the trombone effectively as a lead instrument, but really allows for the first look at a good (though brief) solo from Goto. It's on the next track, a song for her niece, that Goto's chops really get shown off, with an extended run in a Keith Jarrett vein that brings the album to a more grandiose pitch. Blue's sax moves to an urban street corner blues form in the next number, and Goto's contribution following is a tired but lighthearted piece emphasizing lighter piano refrains and a flute for Blue. With a bit of call and response, Powell turns out a piece from his ex-wife, and Blue contributes another piece, this one with a bit of a bossa nova built in under his flute. Powell's lone composition for the album, "You Got It," starts out with a trombone stutter effect that seems more novelty than melody, but builds itself slowly into a showcase for some excellent solos all around, before a finale with a strong Caribbean angle that muddles the instruments together a bit before unleashing Powell on an outstanding trombone solo that could have held the song up by itself. It's not terribly common to have a trombone in front of an ensemble, and it's a special treat when a trombone actually works in the front of an ensemble. Here though, it's not just the trombone behind the album's success; it's the core trio behind the compositions (primarily T.K. Blue and Sayuri Goto) and their sparkling solos, as well as a solid rhythm section that can easily maneuver from a Caribbean groove to a late-night blues riff without missing a step.


Born: March 1, 1930 in New Orleans, LA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Benny Powell was a journeyman trombonist whose bold sound bridged bebop and swing. His work employed the vocal color of great swing trombonists and the technical fluidity of bop practitioners. Powell played both tenor trombone and the bigger-bored bass trombone, broadening the colors he brought to an ensemble. Known nearly exclusively as a sideman, he made valuable contributions to several notable bands, ranging from the rocking swing of Lionel Hampton to the roots-informed avant-garde of John Carter....
Full Bio
Nextep, Benny Powell
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  • $9.90
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: Oct 21, 2008

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