Carl Saunders shows amazing versatility and cuts a wide lyrical path with America.
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
I like the record, I'm just not in love with the record. America is a trumpet master class for any aspiring student and shows a technical proficiency rarely heard in improvisational music today with the exception of the upper echelon of talent working the Big Apple scene. The band is first rate and anchored with critically acclaimed pianist Christian Jacob, so what is the problem? No problem as much as the cohesion that one would expect is on occasion lacking. A few arrangements are predictable bordering on tedious while others showcase an intense swing reminiscent of the glory days of some of the early Wynton Marsalis bands.
"America The Beautiful" and "I Can't Get Started" are nice but fall a little short in originality. "Bumble Bee Blues" and "How Deep Is The Ocean" are masterfully constructed showcases not just for Saunders but for the entire ensemble. Some of the humor that is attempted both in performance and song title misses the mark and a dated feeling comes to the surface. If you want to play vaudeville or Broadway fine but the comedy takes away from the seriousness of the outstanding musicianship on display.
The sound runs from classical to easy listening to blues to swing and this may be the core issue, trying to do too much. Sometimes less is more and a concerted effort at song selection coupled with trying to reach a cohesion of lyrical flow can elevate a better than average recording to great.
Tracks: America The Beautiful, Autumn Sojourn, Nigeria, Nocturne Op. 9 in Eb Major; I Can't Get Started; Triste; Bumble Bee Blues; Sweetness; Blues Fire; The Grim Rapper; How Deep Is The Ocean; Get Down To It.
Personnel: Carl Saunders: Trumpet; Christian Jacob: Piano; Dave Stone: Bass; Santo Savino: Drums; Brad Dutz: Percussion.