Images is a somewhat personal rather conceptualized musical love letter if you will to the hometown of trombonist Steve Davis. Hardly a jazz mecca I guess the old saying is true that home is where the heart is but happiness if where your friends are. Either way i roll a doughnut living in the cultural black hole that is Louisville Kentucky. This Hartford suite while occasionally predictable is so strong from a compositional standpoint that the vibrant swing and lyrical sense of purpose and direction is only occasionally taken outside the norm for the sake of creativity. Jazz that reflects the organic pulse of a city.
Opening with "Nato" which is a tune dedicated to bassist Nat Reeves, this mid temp swing has a plethora of soloist take a lyrical crack at the sonic direction Davis intended with this straight ahead swing tunes marches by with a certain air of predictability but not without a sense of adventure and improvisational variety to keep things fresh and moving. "The Modernist" moves towards the odd meter arena but without an air of self indulgence or time wasted. There is a deceptively subtle straight ahead under pinning that requires close attention but as this is picked up on suddenly the tune takes on a new texture and sonic depth of field that could have been originally missed on the initial first pass. There is a nice even pass, a lyrical sense of purpose without undue urgency. "Park Street" is a favorite as a Latin groove is built around a blues like progression which is another of the many subtle nuances built into this stellar work.
With all most as many dedications as their are tunes there is a great deal of information here to digest. Davis is as strong a composer as he is an instrumentalist and a master of the subtle nuance of having a disc give up something new of itself with each subsequent spin. At time this formidable septet border on a more small orchestra feel with a 4 man horn section on the front line but the arrangements are spot on and the end result is highly entertaining! Musical images created from a rich and deep sonic color pallet, imagery that is as energetic as the ensemble. A fine addition to any collection and certainly West Hartford Ct. should consider itself fortunate indeed to have an instrumentalist/composer place their lovely city in such a magnificent light.
Tracks: Nato; The Modernist; Twain's World; J Mac's Way; Mode For Miantonomoh; Rose Garden; Tune For Calhoun; Park Street; Kenny's; Club 880.
Personnel: Steve Davis: trombone; Mike DiRibbo: alto saxophone; David Bryant: piano; Dezron Douglas: bass; Eric McPherson: drums; Josh Evans: trumpet, flugelhorn; Kris Jensen: tenor saxophone on Club 880.